Hell for Zell: The Bankruptcy of Tribune Company

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : BSTR317 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 300 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Failure of Strategy/ Bankruptcy
Case Length : 19 Pages
Period : 2000-2009
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Tribune Company
Industry : Newspapers
Countries : USA


The case describes the sequence of events which led to the Tribune Company filing for bankruptcy. It begins with details of the history of the 161-year-old company, and goes on to discuss the reasons for the company's gradual decline which prompted its shareholders to demand its sale.

The case then talks about the entry of Sam Zell with a complex financial plan to purchase the company. It then describes the measures he took to revive the company's fortunes, the failure of those measures, and finally, the filing for bankruptcy.

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Understand the challenges faced by a media company at a time when more and more people are turning to the Internet for news and entertainment.

Evaluate a media company's efforts to survive in turbulent times.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Background 2
The Troubles Begin 4
The Zell Era 6
Filing for Bankruptcy 9
Why Did the Bankruptcy Happen? 10
Outlook 11
Exhibits 13


Newspapers, Print advertising, Online advertising , Tribune company, Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, Chicago Tribune, Restructuring debt, Redesigns , Leveraged, Television , Radio , ESOP, Chicago Cubs

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