By: Debra Gersh Hernandez
THE TRIBUNE CO. is planning to move its Washington, D.C., newspaper and broadcast bureaus to a shared office, called the Tribune Media Center.
The move, slated to be completed this spring, is not planned as a formal melding of the bureaus, but rather “an interesting experiment to see how much cooperation we can forge and what, substantively, can come of that,” explained Chicago Tribune bureau chief James Warren.
“At a minimum, it’s a very, very interesting endeavor to see what are the possibilities, what are the limits, of a serious attempt for broadcasting and print to work together,” he said.
Currently, the Washington bureaus for four Tribune Co.-owned newspapers ? Chicago Tribune, Newport News (Va.) Daily Press, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and the Orlando Sentinel ? are located across town from the Tribune Broadcasting bureau. The newspaper bureaus share the same floor space, but office areas are set apart.
According to Warren, the two media do not work together very often, except for the occasional appearances by print reporters on Tribune Broadcasting programs.
“At the moment, the lack of proximity is an actual impediment,” Warren said.
Besides designating one assignment desk, with editors for each media, Warren said there is “no fancy blueprint for what will come of it.”
Warren has been exchanging ideas with Tribune Broadcasting bureau chief Cissy Baker, but he said most of the discussion has been at the theoretical stage.
“For starters, we’ve got to get into the same place, get to know one another, see how print and broadcasting sides [have] different needs, different work rhythms, how they will play out,” Warren said. “Hopefully, there’s more to it than simply taking a Chicago Tribune reporter or [one from another paper] and having them do little, quickie, 30-second pundit things on TV for the Tribune stations. I hope it’s more than that. That’s a no-brainer,” he added.
Planning for the move began before Warren came to Washington just over a year ago, promising changes in the way the Tribune covered Washington. “Maybe it’s a nice coincidence, but it’s not a Warren plan,” he said.
Warren said he knew of no downsizing projected as a result of the move, and he noted that three staffers slated to return to Chicago were expected to be replaced.
“This is a big commitment on the Tribune Co.’s part,” he commented. “I do have a sense of the importance of this move to the company, the apparently very strong support they are giving us, when everybody else is cutting, cutting, cutting.”