Payments to LAT freelancers stopped

If the Los Angeles Times owes you money, you might have to wait a long time. Publisher Eddy Hartenstein told the staff yesterday that the Chapter 11 filing freezes pending payments to freelancers, but said the paper will ask the Delaware judge to allow the commitments to be met. This year's hundreds of laid-off former employees have not heard those assurances and are fairly frantic to find out how long their severance payments will be interrupted. Hartenstein apparently said the Chapter 11 status could last six months to a year. By the way, he told the staff "town hall" meeting that the Times and the rest of Tribune's units remain profitable — this is about Sam Zell's debt load and inability to renegotiate his loans or sell properties like the Cubs.

Related: NPR's story on Tribune's bankruptcy, including Zell telling the Washington bureau a while ago that it was bloated and redundant. Audio

More: Business Week's analysis says Tribune staffers could be lucky the company crashed now rather than after they made several more years of contributions to the employee stock plan that Zell is playing with, given its potential loss of value. The story's lede: "If there is one thing Sam Zell foresaw correctly, it is this: The day after Zell announced he was buying Tribune for more than $8 billion, the real estate tycoon told Chicago Tribune reporters the deal would not change his lifestyle no matter what happened. But, he said, 'it's likely to change yours.' How right he was."

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