Afternoon punditry

Conan Nolan just left LA Observed Tower and I may be on NBC 4 at 5 pm talking about the Times-Tribune situation. (I was, along with Prof. Bryce Nelson of USC Annenberg.) Also taped a segment with Michael Linder at KNX. Around the Web, Marc Glaser at PBS' MediaShift would like the Tribune to consider letting the citizens of Southern California own a piece of the Los Angeles Times, Green Bay Packers style. An excerpt of his piece:

The newspaper is facing the same problem that hundreds of other newspapers are facing: Owners and stockholders who want profit growth each year, who want to cut back on editorial staff, and who could care less about the communities and people who actually read and gain insight from the newspaper. And there’s that massive problem of people reading dead-tree edition newspapers less and reading electronic online versions more — leading to smaller profits at the moment.

So if the corporate owners of the Los Angeles Times are growing impatient with stagnating profits, why not let the readers take charge of the destiny of the paper, not just as citizen journalists but as citizen owners?...

The millions of people who read the L.A. Times each day in print and online will be tapped to help the newspaper become a more independent, inclusive voice of its community. Yes, they can donate money to the cause and become citizen owners, but they can also contribute story ideas, hyper-local intelligence on happenings in their neighborhoods and at their businesses, and the fact-checking that bloggers have become famous for. Let them earn points toward more ownership for each good deed they do, for every dollar they contribute, for every good story lead they have, for every time they dig up something wrong with a story that’s published.

At Slate, critic Jack Shafer wonders somewhat idly who would be worse as overlord of the Times: Eli Broad, David Geffen, Ron Burkle or the Tribune Company?

The track record of the filthy rich who acquire newspapers as playthings or as business propositions is not good. Mortimer Zuckerman, whose hunger for New York status motivated him to buy New York's Daily News, doesn't really have the heart or temperament for the tabloid war he's in with the New York Post. Wendy McCaw has made herself a national joke with her management of the Santa Barbara News-Press. And if you understand what Philip Anschutz's master plan is for the free dailies he runs in San Francisco, Washington, and Baltimore—beyond creating new forms of litter—please tell me....

The least bad candidate for Los Angeles Times owner turns out to be Tribune. I know they're perfect Satans, but they're the Satans journalists understand. At least they know something about running newspapers. Here's hoping that Tribune cancels the contracts they've put out on the lives of Baquet and Johnson, a reasonable budget is advanced, and everybody out in L.A. just learns to get along.

Mark Lacter notes: Tribune stock jumped this afternoon.

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