The editor of Variety blogs:
As another wave of Los Angeles Times staffers got their “farewell” notices last week, everyone seems willing to accept the notion that big city newspapers are an anachronism.
Is this really true or are we all too ready to drink Sam Zell’s Kool-Aid? The Los Angeles Times, in point of fact, is making a nifty profit, though it’s not enough to bail Zell out of his over-leveraged deal.
But here’s the anomaly: Inner cities around the nation are experiencing significant revivals. Poor blacks are moving out and upwardly mobile whites are moving in, reversing trends of several generations ago....
So here’s the big question: Are newspapers losing money mainly because their business plans are obsolete? Are they losing readers, not because of the rise of the web, but because the papers simply aren’t sharply edited?...
Basic demographic trends would seem to favor big city newspapers. But if the Sam Zells of the world are going to take them over, they will be in no position to capitalize on these trends.
He notes that since buying the Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch "hasn’t announced massive layoffs. In fact, he’s planning a new high-end lifestyle weekly magazine and has added new news pages to the Journal."