Tribune Co. on Wednesday elevated Randy Michaels to chief operating officer, putting the former radio executive in direct charge of all of the company's newspapers.
The move could presage an expansion of Michaels' efforts to shake up the newspapers' advertising operations, as he has done at the smaller Tribune papers he has been overseeing.
The promotion gives Michaels, whose previous title was executive vice president and chief executive of Tribune's broadcasting and interactive divisions, authority over the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and Newsday of Long Island, Tribune's three largest newspapers.
In his earlier job, he was responsible for the company's other six newspapers, including the Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant, as well as the online businesses and the company's two dozen TV stations.
He assumed the post Dec. 20, when the company completed its going-private transaction.
Tribune Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Zell made the announcement in a news release and an e-mail to employees, saying that Michaels "is exactly what Tribune needs to keep moving forward -- smart, decisive, relentless, irreverent, fun and cutting-edge."
The two publishing executives who had reported to Zell -- David D. Hiller, president and chief executive of The Times, and Scott C. Smith, president of Tribune publishing -- will now report to Michaels.
At the smaller papers, Michaels has moved the ad sales staffs toward a more commission-based pay structure, which he said has improved productivity.
Michaels declined to be interviewed but said in the news release: "The advertising environment is tough, the real estate crisis is affecting our classifieds something awful and people are saying newspapers are dead. So, naturally, I want to take on even more responsibility for our print business."
He added, "Despite the problems, we have world-class brands with unlimited potential. We're in the biggest markets and print still grabs a bigger share of advertising revenue than any other medium."