Lee Abrams, the eccentric chief innovation officer for Tribune newspapers -- and no stranger to NewsBusters criticism -- has reportedly been suspended for sending co-workers a not-safe-for-work (NSFW) e-mail.
Remember Lee Abrams, the eccentric (some would say nutty) Chief Innovation Officer of the Tribune Company best known for writing bizarre stream of conciousness memos that sound like the author is on an acid trip? Well, he and his memos are back to promote the launch of a new newscast at KIAH Channel 39 in Houston which will be notable for its lack of anchors or reporters. This development comes on the heels of the utter failure of another Abrams project launched with much enthusiasm last year at WSFL-TV in South Florida, The Morning Show. The sad fate of that show was described in a memo yesterday sent out to the staff by publisher Howard Greenberg of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel which runs that station:
Earlier this morning, WSFL-TV announced the cancellation of The Morning Show, with today being the last broadcast. Launched on April 13, 2009, the program was designed to provide the competitive South Florida market with a fresh take on morning news. We had high hopes for the program, and significant effort from throughout the company went into developing the show. While we're proud of what we accomplished in a short period of time, the audience didn't build the way we had anticipated, and we had to make the difficult decision to end production. Every effort is being made to help affected employees with this transition, including assisting them in exploring placement within our organization and at other Tribune properties. We're also helping facilitate the production of resume tapes and other material for departing staff members.
Today the Seattle Post-Intelligencer publishes its final print edition. So what kind of advice are newspapers getting from people whose job it is to help them remain in business? If they are relying upon advice from Lee Abrams, the Chief Innovation Officer of the Tribune Company, the future of newspapers is indeed bleak. The advice offered by Abrams sounds like nothing more than the street corner rantings of an aging hippie who has endured way too many acid trips. Is your humble correspondent perhaps exaggerating a bit? Check out the latest Lee Abrams memo via The Daily Pulp and you be the judge:
THINK PIECE: CHANGE
First off, WGN-AMERICA is going through a significant redesign:
The Chief Innovation Officer of the Tribune Company, Lee Abrams, is salivating all over himself in excitement over the ways that corporation's newspapers could capitalize on Barack Obama's election. If you think Abrams couldn't top himself with his idea of boosting the circulation of the Los Angeles Times by repainting its news vans with different colors, he gives it a good try this time mixed with his usual unintentional humor. Here are some of Abrams' psychedelically tinged thoughts on Obama and newspapers as relayed by Bob Norman's The Daily Pulp (emphasis mine):
November 10, 2008 THINK PIECE: THE OBAMA WAKE UP CALL
The demand for last Wednesday's post election papers is obviously enormous. If there's ever an indicator that newspapers are timeless, this is it. The wake up call last week (like $200 copies on eBay) spurred a lot of thinking and action across the Tribune Nation. Now, as the march to the inauguration begins is when we can:
a) Capitalize on it Or b) Let other media steal it from us.
*Compartmentalize so it's in a reliable place *Logo or iconize so it's not just a series of stories *Give coverage some visual CHARACTER & Style
Please forgive your humble correspondent if he takes a bit of pride in being the first to recognize the inadvertent comedy genius of Lee Abrams, the Chief Innovation Officer of the Tribune Company. Since I first reported on the hilarious antics of Abrams back in March, more and more people, especially those in the newspaper business, have learned to appreciate the comedy material provided by his many memos consisting of a bizarre mixture of upbeat optimism and New Age psychobabble.
Although the author or authors are anonymous, one suspects the parody memos were written by a journalist in the Tribune organization upon whom the budget axe might soon fall. Here are some Lee Abrams parody memo excerpts from Poynter Forums:
I'll say one thing for the Tribune Company's new "Chief Innovation Officer," Lee Abrams. He might not be able to solve the declining newspaper circulation problems but he is absolutely irrepressible in a very funny way. On the heels of his recent suggestion that the Los Angeles Times could solve some of its problems by repainting its news vans, we have yet another of Abrams' famous memos which goes in all directions powered by a generous dose of psychobabble. You might need to channel the late Timothy Leary to interpret Abrams' latest memo, THINK PIECE: BUSTING DENIALS AND ASSUMPTIONS, issued last Monday which starts out with ideas about "re-imaging" the WGN Superstation, which is owned by the Tribune Co., and ultimately reaches the outer limits of the newspaper galaxy.
The Titanic has hit an iceberg and is sinking. Not to worry, just paint the lifeboats with a new color scheme and things will improve. As ridiculous as that sounds, it is not much different than the proposal of the Tribune Company Chief Innovation Officer, Lee Abrams, who proposed changing the color of Los Angeles Times vans:
Being too close to it. LAT has about 20 vans...but they're all Black? Hmmm. Maybe they should be painted in LAT colors. There ARE more than a few commuters driving around down there.
Apparently Abrams thinks basic black is not exciting enough but he seems to love the color green according to his internal blog post about changes at the Los Angeles Times obtained by LA Observed:
...They use soy based ink and recycled paper. Hmmm...maybe they should be bragging about that on every page as LA is the home of green.
When I last reported on the hilarious musings of the Tribune Company's new chief innovation officer, Lee Abrams, little did I realize that he would provide us with a continuous comedy act of major proportions. His previous observations wandered from looking upon newspapers as the "new rock 'n' roll" to the need for soul all interspersed with quotations from everybody from John Cleese to Carl Jung. Yes, he was good for some bellylaughs but now he has exceeded himself in the inadvertent humor department with a memo to the Tribune staffers that rivals the best of comedy skits. Appropriately, Abrams announces that his job starts on April Fools Day:
...I start April 1st but I've been pretty engaged from afar. Thought I'd share some observations on TV, web and print. Small stuff, "think pieces" more than anything...not end alls, but when we re-think and maximize hundreds of little pieces within the framework of bigger pieces and it could be part of the blueprint for something very powerful: