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Controversial CEO Randy Michaels leaves troubled Tribune Company

The departure of Tribune Company CEO Randy Michaels was cheered by journalists who said his outlandish behavior and lack of credentials diminished the credibility of the Chicago Tribune.

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The Tribune Company accepted the resignation of its chief executive Friday after media reports portrayed its leadership as encouraging a fraternity party atmosphere even as the troubled company struggles to emerge from bankruptcy.

Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels filed his resignation Friday, a decision that was cheered by newsroom staffers who said his outlandish behavior and questionable journalism credentials diminished the credibility of the Chicago Tribune and was emblematic of company leadership that proved rudderless in helping steer it back from bankruptcy.

Tribune, which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Baltimore Sun among several newspaper holdings, as well as 23 television stations, appointed a five-person executive council to assume Michaels’ duties.

In a statement Friday, Tribune Board Chairman Sam Zell said the “appointments are designed to ensure a smooth, seamless transition of management responsibilities to a group of experienced executives who have a strong understanding of the company’s media businesses.”

The Michaels resignation is the second at the company in two weeks; last week, Lee Abrams, the chief innovation officer, resigned after distributing a sexually-charged memo to the entire company.

The sexist culture at Tribune came to light earlier this month in a front-page article in the New York Times that described several instances of “frat house” behavior that included raucous poker parties and sexual behavior conducted after hours in the executive offices, the use of profanity by its top executives in memos and in conversation, and women who were routinely targets of sexual harassment.

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