Radio talker Hugh Hewitt offers some new advice to Sam Zell and Randy Michaels on the problem child of their big debt-laden, default-threatened investment in the Tribune company. (Here was Hewitt's old advice regarding the L.A. Times, from 2007.) He blogs:
Word is the numbers are sinking fast around Spring Street as advertisers figure out the subscription rate no longer reflects the touch rate at all. The Sports and the Calendar sections gets read by a significantly higher percentage that the front and California sections, right? Nobody even seems to get mad at the paper anymore. Nobody cares. It is a near-dead enterprize. [sic]
How can what is essentially a monopoly have hit bottom like this? You already know about the productivity problem among the staff, and you suspect what critics on the right have long argued: The paper is a club for elite lefties talking to each other. There arenít enough of them to support the advertisers, and even they are bored with the paper. The Huffington Post has replaced you as the must read among the cityís lefties.
What to do? To start with, recognize this is a crisis, not a bad couple of quarters or back-to-back years.
Hewitt argues the point is to get online readership to rise. Let's hope the point turns out to be more ambitious, public service-oriented and profitable than merely attracting eyeballs on the web.