Newspaper Exec On Really Old Computer: "We Unplugged It And Nothing Stopped!"Well if it isn't one of those little anecdotes could be seen as a neat metaphor for the entire business of finding neat metaphors to explain large global topics! Tribune Company COO (and ex-Clear Channel CEO) Randy Michaels recently told the company's bondholders on a conference call that he'd been exploring the mostly-deserted corporate headquarters of Times Mirror, the newspaper group Tribune acquired in 2000, just "to see what we could unplug"…and realized his company was still maintaining Times Mirror's old 1998 mainframe! "Nothing goes into it. Nothing comes out of it. And then we unplugged it and nothing stopped." TOO EASY…Hey, the cool thing — for newspapers and California's carbon footprint! — is that Michaels put a stop to it.
So we've stopped the service contract, stopped the maintenance. We've actually disconnected about half of the equipment on the eighth floor. We have surplus air conditioning. While that may not be material, it represents the kind of opportunity that exists here. We're busy changing the culture to save money." In other words, people don't kill newspapers. Machines kill newspapers. But not quite. People are to be blamed as well, Michaels suggested in the same breath, especially congregations of them: "I realized that in the first few months here, I was always busy, but not getting a lot done … Twelve people would show up in the office. We had a culture of meetings. I'm sure they were informative and helpful. Everyone could stay busy going to meetings. We're actively campaigning against meetings if something could be handled by a conversation in the hall or a quick email. We're having a lot fewer meetings and getting more done."
And interestingly enough, he pulled out all those plugs and not PEEP WAS HEARD from the outmoded mainframes' cranky old union organizers. [Reuters