Tribune (NYSE:TRB) did not have the 2004 for which it had hoped. Instead of a rebound, the company fought sluggish sales and a circulation scandal at two publications. The media firm does not expect market conditions for 2005 to be much better, but it's working every angle to improve results. Some may be more worthwhile than others.

Tribune reported that 2004 fourth-quarter operating revenue rose 1% to $1.5 billion, while net income fell 36% to $217 million. For 2004, revenue grew 2.3% to $5.7 billion, and net income slumped 37% to $547 million. Earnings were hurt by a number of charges from such things as layoffs, an accounting change, and a settlement with advertisers over the inaccurate circulation issue.

One bright spot was fourth-quarter interactive revenue, which rose 27% to $33 million. The company indicated that, a joint venture of Tribune, Gannett (NYSE:GCI), and Knight-Ridder (NYSE:KRI), is gaining on competitor Monster Worldwide's (NASDAQ:MNST) Still, the interactive area is a relatively small piece of Tribune's overall business. What's more, Tribune's interactive side does not answer implicit challenges from the likes of Yahoo! (NYSE:YHOO), which is capturing more movie marketing dollars, and a potential emerging threat from blogs.

Tribune instead seems to be eyeing media consolidation as a means to bump up its performance. What gives me this idea? The firm is making the special effort of joining with Viacom (NYSE:VIA) and General Electric's (NYSE:GE) NBC Universal, among others, to overturn a court ruling that blocked the Federal Communications Commission's plan to relax ownership restrictions on traditional media outlets such as broadcast TV, radio, and newspapers.

But Tribune's pursuit of looser ownership rules may not be the best investment of its resources. After all, the FCC rules have been fairly controversial, and homogenization of traditional media is arguably one of the factors driving people away from such outlets. Over the long run, Tribune may be better served by concentrating on building out its new media assets rather than adding to its old media properties.

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Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.