Media industry analyst Ken Doctor speculates that if Gannett does succeed in acquiring Tribune Publishing, there may also be an opening to sell the biggest prize in the batch, the Los Angeles Times, to a local buyer — "to Eli Broad, perchance?" Doctor says the numbers don't necessarily add up for Gannett to pay $815 million for Tribune's newspapers. Thus, the prospect of using an LAT sale to make the overall deal pencil out. Gannett's CEO says the proposed acquisition of TPUB pencils out fine, but Doctor's speculation certainly will sound good to many in the LA Times newsroom. They don't look forward to being in the Gannett empire. Gannett would become the giant of the newspaper industry if it swallows up the Times, Chicago Tribune and other Tribune papers, but it doesn't have anything of their size and reach and is not known for ambitious journalism. "Middle-brow, small towns, tight rein on management," Doctor tells James Warren at Poynter. Also: "publishers ascendant and editors not as strong, excellent financial engineers, best balance sheet in the business, still searching for its community voice."
Wonder what the Times staffers are afraid of? Dylan Byers' story for CNN Money wonders if the LA Times as we know it can survive under Gannett or be crushed. Sample:
Under Gannett (GCI), these people say, the already beleaguered L.A. Times runs the risk of losing what national footprint it still has and becoming just another local paper in the sprawling "USA Today Network."
Gannett's current strategy has USA Today providing the company's nearly 100 local papers with a one-size-fits-all supplement of national and international news. This allows Gannett to save money and gives papers like The Baxter Bulletin and The Great Falls Tribune content they couldn't produce on their own.
But Gannett has never owned a major-market paper like the L.A. Times -- a paper that has the fourth biggest circulation in the country, still harbors national ambitions, and has a legacy of providing its own coverage from around the country and around the globe.
"The Gannett model has been to take that USA Today section and put it into all of their papers, which works if you're in Cincinnati or Des Moines," a Gannett veteran said. "But how do you make that work in L.A.?"
According to some, it doesn't. In a worst-case scenario, Gannett reduces the L.A. Times' editorial staff to a regional level, gutting what foreign and national bureaus it still has left and supplementing local coverage with USA Today content.
Here is Doctor's full piece for Nieman Lab, After Gannett’s $815 million Tribune bid, here are eight things to look out for.
Warren at Poynter, The potential impact of a mega-Gannett-Tribune deal
Byers at CNN, Can the L.A. Times survive Gannett?
Also, David Folkenflik's report last night on NPR.