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Veteran radio executive Randy Michaels was not able to transfer his success to running the large, newspaper-based Tribune Company. While the financially struggling company appears ready to emerge from bankruptcy protection, Mr. Michaels was forced to resign following a meeting with the company’s board of directors. The often criticized culture installed by Michaels seemed to be his Achilles’ heel. NOTE: A longer and more sordid description of the culture at Tribune can be found in the original article written by the New York Times.


1. What are the dynamic forces that are having a negative effect on a traditional media company like the Tribune? Discuss how these forces may have opened the way for the hiring of Randy Michaels.

2. While organizational effectiveness appears to be improving at Tribune, Mr. Michaels’ departure reflects more on the culture that developed behind his ascendancy as CEO. Examine the essential aspects of observable culture and talk about how Mr. Michaels got it wrong. What are the implications of observable culture for core culture in this case?

3. In terms of symbolic leadership, talk about why Mr. Michaels had to go (based on what little can be gleaned from the article).

SOURCE: R. Adams, “Michaels Weighs Comeback Plans,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at

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