A staff memo from the Tribune Company's CEO Randy Michaels and COO Gerry Spector, obtained by Romenesko Wednesday, announced the company's financial results for 2009. Despite a dicey year for newspapers all round, which left the Tribune company "feeling as though we would be fighting for our very survival", the bankrupt enterprise still managed to ring in an operating cash flow of almost $500 million at the end of last year - an impressive $100 million more than it had reason to predict a month ago.
The company, which recently won a court challenge brought by lenders for control of the company over its proposed reorganisation, underwent a period of cost-cutting in 2009 and just this month, the Tribune's LA Times closed an Orange County printing plant, swallowing up 80 jobs and resolving to shave four inches of the width of its newspaper. In November, the Tribune did away with its Associated Press news feed across its dailies, and back in August it sold 95 percent of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field for approximately $845 million to the Ricketts family. In the memo, Michaels and Spector prepared staff for more cutbacks that would continue into 2010.
But the memo also served to thank and congratulate employees for their hard work, innovation and commitment to keeping expenses low. Despite the encouraging news, the Tribune must be well aware that they are not out of the woods yet, with Michaels and Spector imploring staff to continue in the same vein as last year, and indeed "work even faster" if they are to use this success as a springboard to beat the tough times ahead.