I believe it is important to state the facts as they apply to my recent and abrupt departure from Tribune Company. My apology for sending the Onion News Network parody clip stands. Though, as Tribune is a multimedia company competing at the most dramatic crossroads in media history, I would have hoped that the use of a brilliant parody to demonstrate the ills of popular TV would have been an effective communication vehicle and that people would have taken it as it was intended; a parody that illustrates what not to do. I suspect that a major component of this debacle is being motivated by a power play to seize creative, cultural and business control of the company as it emerges from Chapter 11. Or maybe the idea of a "rock-and-roll" type from broadcasting invading tradition is so offensive to the fourth estate that my mere presence posed a threat to their grip on the past. I do not know that any of these hypotheses are fact and probably never will.
I do find it ironic that the Onion is a business partner of the Chicago Tribune and that very clip was shown at a recent Chicago Tribune sales meeting to a rousing and positive reaction. This leads me to suspect that the clip itself was not the motivation behind the aggressive coverage this event received. Personally, I think the Chicago Tribune has worked hard to reinvent itself as a modern newspaper serving Chicagoland, and I hope I played a small role in helping them achieve what they have done in a short period of time. I hold up copies of this newspaper with pride, and in fairness I want them to know that.
It saddens me that in light of the remarkable challenges that old media faces, there would be such an uproar over this clip. I am sorry for the timing and the results of my action, but continue to believe that people working in traditional media need to open their eyes to the realities of our culture in 2010 without denial, self-righteousness or arrogance. It was my intention to use any reasonable vehicle to help that happen. I would hope more people would look at the actual memo in context and note that it included several Onion parodies, TED Conference speeches, social media videos and creative presentations. TV understands this, online reinvents itself by the minute, and I was hopeful that print would have the same attitude. While some do, many are more resistant than I ever suspected. My biggest mistake may have been a failure to temper my style to the culture of print newsrooms, as clearly, there has been a contentious attitude between us from the day I walked in. After decades of work in radio, music and popular culture, I should have known better. But I hope those who find my approach unusual will know that my intentions have never been anything more than to push new thinking in all of our media. We are in the Apple era and need to open our eyes to change even when it's not pretty. The Tribune TV stations are engaging with that idea and will be stronger for their efforts. There are a few ongoing issues I read about that I need to address:
I want to go on record that I hope for nothing but success for everyone at Tribune and that includes some of the newspaper people that I can't help thinking were focused on undermining my work and accelerating my decline at the company instead of moving us to the future. I just hope that no one will get mired in the drama and instead focus on the spirit of positive change that has never been more important in the battle for eyes, ears and minds in this 21st Century. I will not stop pushing forward at wherever my next venture may be. Thank you.