A Fuller Life: Partly 'Truth,' Partly Fiction

By Fitzgerald, Mark | Editor & Publisher, March 27, 2000 | Go to article overview

A Fuller Life: Partly 'Truth,' Partly Fiction


Fitzgerald, Mark, Editor & Publisher


Before he became president of Tribune Publishing and long before his days were consumed with finding multimedia synergies, Jack Fuller published a novel - one of his five books - with a title that's particularly appropriate in light of the $8-billion Times Mirror Co. acquisition. It's called "Convergence."

"Convergence," the spy novel, is set in the 1970s and follows the triangular machinations of two CIA agents and a Soviet operative. But "convergence," the media concept, is a pretty good one-word summary of Fuller's marching orders since he took charge of Tribune's newspapers three years ago.

Fuller's boss, John Madigan, has kept the company focused on connecting print, broadcast, and interactive media even as other companies that grew from newspapers either shed papers, as Thomson Corp. is doing now, or move towards a pure newspaper play, as Pulitzer Inc. and Lee Enterprises Inc. have done by selling off their broadcast properties.

"We think it gives us so many more opportunities," Madigan says. "Every year, the media converge more and more, and we find that having both [print and electronic media] gives us an incredible advantage. That's why we've resisted splitting the company up and spinning off new media. I've never believed that is the right thing to do."

In the days since the deal was announced, Fuller has been making the rounds of Times Mirror papers, reassuring nervous newsrooms about Tribune intentions. He comes to that chore with impressive credentials, both inside and outside the newsroom, including a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing won in 1986. A reviewer of one of his recent books called him "a throwback to the days when publishers were more than bean counters in expensive suits."

Chicago native Fuller, 53, started at the Tribune as a copy boy and spent a year of his U.S. Army service during 1969-70 as a Vietnam correspondent for Pacific Stars and Stripes. He later drew on that experience in a novel called "Fragments" that he co-wrote with celebrated author Robert Olen Butler. It was hailed by The Wall Street Journal as "the best novel yet about the Vietnam War."

A graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and Yale Law School, Fuller returned to the Tribune in 1973, but left two years later to take a job as special assistant to the U. …

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