FRAMINGHAM (04/03/2000) - Four days after this interview, on March 13, Tribune Co. announced that it would acquire The Times Mirror Co., but it declined to comment on the effect the merger may have on Tribune's information technology organization. "It would be premature to discuss any impact at this point," a Tribune spokeswoman said.
The merger is expected to be complete by the third quarter. The new company will remain in Chicago, and John Madigan, Tribune's chairman, president and CEO, will keep his title.
Interviewee: Kathy Ameche, CIO
Company: Tribune Co. (www.tribune.com), a media company that operates newspaper publishing, broadcasting, interactive media and education businesses; owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball teamMain location: Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue in downtown ChicagoNumber of IT employees: 125 in corporate IT, plus 125 to 175 additional decentralized IT employeesNumber of employees (end users): About 15,000Workday: About 8 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. for most IT staff, "but we're a 24/7 operation, so there are three shifts in the technical operations center."
This year's major IT initiatives: A PeopleSoft Inc. financial systems implementation; "increasing revenue from our sites and making it easier for viewers, advertisers and subscribers to get the information they need"; the convergence of voice and data over the corporate network.
Hiring plans: "We will be hiring, but not aggressively. Mainly it will be replacement hiring, with some growth hiring in e-commerce, PeopleSoft and end-user support."
Internal career paths: "Tribune is really good at promoting and cross-training and allowing people to move into other areas. You can start in IT and end up in a business role in broadcasting, for example."
Bonus programs: Sign-on bonuses, spot performance bonuses, formal annual bonuses at certain management levels and quarterly awards based on peer recommendationsDress code: Business casualTypes of offices: Cubes on interior with offices on perimeter for directors and above. "We're putting together a lab where we'll be able to do some creative thinking and work with new technologies. It will feature a duplication of our environment so we can run tests of upgrades or new routers before we put them into the production environment. ... We're geeks. We love our toys."
Must people carry beepers? Cell phones? Both. On-call employees have laptops and dial-up access from home that's paid for by the company. Managers and executives carry Palm devices provided by the company.
Telecommuting policy: "We don't have one at the moment. A predecessor of mine experimented with telecommuting, and it didn't work out. We'd like to try it again, but we're not there yet."
On-site health club? "Not yet, but it's on the drawing board."
In-house cafeteria/food service: Yes.
The one thing everyone complains about: Parking.
Favorite gossip topics: "Will the Cubs win the pennant?"
Little perks: "Getting new technology, like the PalmPilots and the latest laptops; access to Chicago Cubs tickets; hobnobbing with Tribune reporters in the elevators. ... A year ago we had a push to increase quality, and after that we all got to play baseball at Wrigley Field."
Would employees feel comfortable e-mailing the CEO, John Madigan? "I don't see why not. I would think so."
Quote: "In 150 years of publishing the Chicago Tribune, we've never not gotten the paper out the door. We're very proud of our history and who we are and what we do, and the IT staff supports that."