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Zell Spreads Change To Trib's Smaller Papers

Sam Zell, the billionaire who bought Chicago-based Tribune Co. in December, is preaching a message of change at his new properties -- insisting to its Daily Press employees that the press must evolve rapidly to keep up with big changes in the media landscape. Zell says he wants to give greater autonomy to Tribune properties, so that business and editorial decisions are made at the local level and "not in a tower in Chicago."

Zell also blasts Tribune's corporate culture and structure as inefficient:"My job is to throw grenades ... My goal is to be as outrageous as is necessary in order to move you from where you were to where we have got to be." But even as the industry's advertising revenue and paid circulation slump, Zell says he still smells opportunity.

"I believe that newspapers, in fact, have a great future, and 25 or 30 years from now, the newspapers that adapt and take a position that create a future for them will survive," he says. Zell adds that Tribune's smaller newspapers like the Daily Press will be a "petri dish" of innovation, where new ideas would be tested before being moved to its top-tier papers.



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