Tribune publishing chief to retire

NEW YORK Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:37pm EDT

A man enters the Tribune Tower in Chicago, April 2, 2007. REUTERS/John Gress

A man enters the Tribune Tower in Chicago, April 2, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/John Gress

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of Tribune Co's publishing division and publisher of the Chicago Tribune is retiring, a week after the company's new leaders said they would overhaul their newspapers to cut costs and try to attract more readers as they struggle with dismal advertising sales and falling circulation.

"Sam, Randy and I agree it's time for new leadership to lead the next wave of market-driven change in our business," Scott Smith wrote in a memo to employees on Thursday that was obtained by Reuters.

He was referring to chief executive and Chicago real estate tycoon Sam Zell and former Clear Channel Communications Chief Executive Randy Michaels, whom Zell hired as Tribune's chief operating officer.

Smith, 57, began working at Tribune in 1977, according to a memo from Michaels that was obtained by Reuters. He will stay at the company until it names a successor, Michaels wrote.

His departure is the latest among executives who were running the company before Zell took the publisher and broadcaster private in a debt-laden $8.2 billion deal.

The company now is unloading various properties as it tries to stay solvent. It is selling the Newsday daily newspaper on Long Island to cable operator Cablevision Systems Corp and plans to sell the Chicago Cubs baseball team and the Wrigley Field ballpark in Chicago.

It also is planning to redesign its papers and cut the number of pages in each edition in a bid to trim costs.

(Reporting by Robert MacMillan, editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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