The Abrams Doctrine

Friday, October 10, 2008


As the senior vice president and first ever chief innovation officer of the Tribune Company, Lee Abrams is spearheading some major changes in the newspaper business. This is Abrams' first foray into journalism and his leadership style is, well, different. Abrams discusses his infamous staff memos and his vision for the future of the newspaper business.

Comments [8]

Lori Keller from Chicago

I, too have been a print newspaper reader for 25 years. I cancelled my subscription to the Chicago Tribune yesterday after giving it a couple of weeks to improve from the layout change. Two other people I know also cancelled their subscription. I don't know how Abrams can say the change is a good one. It's a piece of crap now. In fact, they took elements of their 'youth oriented free daily', the Red Eye and dumbed down the whole paper. As mentioned by another commenter, there is no news in the newspaper! If I wanted to pay for ads, I'd keep my subscription.

Oct. 21 2008 01:24 PM
Brian Witt from Milwaukee

Lee Abrams apparently has no concept of journalism, be it televison or other types of news. His amazement that the Trib has reporters on the ground in other places in the world is frightening in its blank and naked ignorance.

The new makeup of the Tribune is hard to read, and hard to navigate. Stories are no longer arranged in a readable fashion, editorials are hard to find. And the letters page now allows you to submit a photo. Wow, is that wonderful.

For years, I have felt that the Trib was one of the better newspapers in the country, dedicated to journalistic principles that they put on a higher plane than others. Now, it is about sizzle, for the brain dead who can't take morre than 3 seconds to pull out details.

Sorry, Mr. Abrams, the hot pop stories weren't what brought me to subscribe to the Tribune. Your new layout is making me reconsider my decision when renewal time is back.

Oct. 14 2008 04:05 PM
former reader

"which are labeled as ads, because... THEY'RE ADS" :)

They know it's rearranging deck chairs. The point of the redesigns is to print fewer pages, use less ink, and write fewer stories -- and thus employ as few journalists as possible.

"They're not gonna make a big difference. They're just sort of, symbolic." (- Lee Abrams, last month.)

Oct. 13 2008 06:25 PM
Sharon Allexsaht

First - I am not a journalist - but I am "of" journalism. My father was a national reporter for Knight Ridder who traveled with presidents, and my brother is the Metro editor of the Washington Post.

Mr. Abrams is right. Here is a story-- Brad Pitt was researching a role for a movie in which he played a reporter, and my brother gave him a tour of the Wash Post facility. When they got to the editorial board room my brother explained that this was where they met and went over all of the stories of the day and decided what would go on the front page. "You do that every day?" Mr Pitt responded in awe.
My brother finds this story hilarious. But the truth is that many people are not aware that this is the way the decisions are mde and would find the process facinating. Mr. Abrams would say -- Why not let the READER DECIDE?!?! Show them what the choices were and LET THEM VOTE?!?!?!
And he would be right. Why not? Newspapers HAVE TO CHANGE!! A dialog is necessary. A dialog with EVERYTHING ON THE TABLE!!!!

Oct. 13 2008 11:08 AM
Beast from Florida

Why would On The Media cover a piece of crap like Lee Abrams? He participated in the Destruction of Radio and has done nothing but ruin everything he has ever touched.
As co-founder of the world's first real-live internet only radio station, EyeQradio, I can assure you he personally saw to it that we were ignored and helped put us out of business. He is a Nothing who thinks he's a Something.
Remember who told you, watch as he is involved in the death of print, of course its already almost dead. He is one of those grim reapers that is involved in everything putrid and dying. On The Media should focus on things new and living, not people and companies like Abrams.
I am going to write his new bosses and I hope the general public will too.

Oct. 11 2008 04:47 PM
Larry from Washington, DC

Why is Abrams focsuing on radical changes for the print side, and not one word about innovation for Tribune's digital products? Just moving deck chairs...

Oct. 11 2008 04:05 PM
Stephen Schwartz from Chicago, Illinois

Bob was right that the new design manages to be flashy without being vulgar. But that may be the only nice thing to say about it. The real problem is that this is intended to compensate for the dramatic decrease in editorial content across the board by making the Tribune more "vibrant" and "accessible."

There's nothing inherently wrong with an enticing layout, but ultimately newspapers should be about the news. Yet there were only two stories on the front page last Tuesday morning and just one on Wednesday. The rest was filled with graphics, very large photos, and short teasers to articles inside. If I didn't also make it a point to read a variety of print and online news sources, I would be very poorly served as a news consumer and as a citizen.

Maybe this will work for some people, but the Tribune—formerly a very good but not a great paper—is today little more than a poor copy of its website and as such is a waste of paper. I canceled my subscription Wednesday morning, and I've been subscribing to newspapers for over thirty years (and the Tribune for the last nine). I suspect I am not alone. That’s too bad, because if there was ever a time when we needed a responsible and respectable daily newspaper in Chicago (with a separate business section, thank you), this is it.

The Washington Post had (has?) a clever slogan, “If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.” I suggest a variation for the Tribune’s new slogan—“I don’t get it.”

Oct. 11 2008 02:48 PM
Steve Maggi from Austin, TX

Nothing good will come of Lee Abrams' decisions. This is the man who ruined FM radio by streamlining playlists to just the lowest-common denominator of only the "hits."

Oct. 11 2008 09:34 AM

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