Chicago real estate billionaire Sam Zell bought the Tribune Company last year pledging to improve the newspapers. Instead, he has fired more than 500 workers. He has shrunk the size of the newspapers, diminishing the public sphere in our communities. We're asking Zell to create two additional board members to represent Tribune workers and local community members. Los Angeles Times workers and the community that they serve deserve seats at the table.
We the undersigned realize that these are difficult economic times for all newspapers. However, we do not understand why Tribune Co. is cutting back on its coverage and its staff more than other media organizations. We believe that it is ultimately harmful to the long term future of your organization to diminish the product and the public sphere.
For that reason, we would like to take you up on your offer to be "partners" with Tribune employees. Tribune employees are partial owners of the company due to the Employee Stock Ownership Plan which was used to finance a highly-leveraged buyout of Tribune Co. last year. They surely have a stake in the future of this company. We ask you to create a seat on the board of directors to represent the interests of Tribune employees. Scores of other ESOPs already have such a position. Tribune workers deserve a seat at the table.
We also would like to take you up on your professed desire to reinvent the newspaper. To that end, we urge you to recognize that a newspaper is a unique business: a profit-seeking enterprise which has public service responsibilities. We, the citizens of communities served by Tribune Co. news outlets, believe that we can help you fulfill your public trust role if we, too, are given a voice on the board of directors. We ask that you create a seat on the board of directors to represent the interests of readers. Community members also deserve a seat at the table.
We believe that by taking these steps, you will help improve the long term health of Tribune Co. We believe that by taking these steps, you will invest in the newspapers and the communities that they serve. And we believe that by taking these steps, you will signal a dramatic new direction for the media and its goals in the 21st century.
Please join us by creating two new seats on your company's board of directors to represents the interests of employees and the interests of local communities. Help us help you. We'd like a seat at the table.
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