Lee Abrams resigned from the Chicago Tribune Friday. It’s not often you get to witness the media eating their own but in Abrams’ case, cannibalism was allowed.
Of course, the press never considered Abrams one of their own. Abrams was a radio guy whose ideas affected the radio business on a number of occasions. When Sam Zell hired him as his Chief Innovation officer, Abrams took a radio approach to newspapers. The Columbia Journalism Review did a story on his attempt at changing newspapers in 2008.
By most media accounts, Abrams was never accepted by many of those in the newspaper industry. And when the New York Times ran its account of the atmosphere created at the Chicago Tribune, it was hard to find many in the media who took the Trib’s side. But this was just start of the Abrams saga. A week after the Times story hit the press, with media still buzzing about its effects, Abrams sent out a memo to his staff that could be considered racy at best. This did not go over well. The Sun-Times, usually quick to kick the Trib when it’s down, reported the story with a sense of almost shock.
The Tribune storyabout the memo by media columnist Phil Rosenthal was almost apologetic for Abrams, quoting Abrams who said the video was in poor taste.
“”The video in bad taste was a parody of a cable-type reality show,” Abrams wrote. “It is not something that we would ever air on our TV stations — in fact quite the opposite — we show this as an example of what NOT to do. But, still, I understand that it was very inappropriate to distribute a link to the video to a wider audience.”
The story even mentioned the Tribune’s harassment policy, which is mentioned in the New York Times story.
The media industry piled on to this story. The press found former workers at the Trib who were suing Zell and asked their opinion; when the Tribune broke the story about his resignation, there were cheers at the Los Angeles Times.
So Abrams is gone. But is the story over?