As chronicled by Brother Roderick from our LAO mothership, the journo-daggers have been sharp and steady. For months, Tribune's crazy-ass CEO was being given the benefit of the doubt on most of his brainstorms until he began fooling around with the two things that reporters and editors most care about: space and work load. Here is Harold Myersonís take in the WashPost:
Great newspapers take decades to build. We are discovering that they can be dismantled in relatively short order. The Los Angeles Times was a hyperpartisan, parochial broadsheet until Otis Chandler became its publisher in 1960 and began the work of transforming it into the paper of both record and insight that it's been for the past half-century. The diminution of such a paper diminishes its city, which is why L.A.'s otherwise disparate civic elites have periodically tried to restore the Times to local control since the Trib bought it at the turn of this century. Instead, in Zell, what Los Angeles has is a visiting Visigoth, whose civic influence is about as positive as that of the Crips, the Bloods and the Mexican mafia.
A little overwrought, no? I mean, the number of stories you're asked to produce each week will be the least of your problems if the paper winds up shutting down. But to the matter at hand: Does Sam really care about what Myerson or any of the others think of his ideas? Are you kidding? I would bet a couple of bucks that Sam hasn't the foggiest idea who Harold Myerson is. In the world of Zell, it's all white noise. Besides, he supposedly thinks the Tribune people are happy to see the changes being made. Or have you forgotten what he said during a conference call back in April: "In the 3,000 emails I've gotten, all of which I read and all of which I answered, perhaps the most common phrase in those emails is, quote, a breath of fresh air. We are changing the culture, we are changing the environment, and we are changing everyone's goals."
Where these 3,000 emails came from is anyone's guess, but that's not the point. The point is that rich guys do not admit six months into the acquisition of a company that they made a mistake (Zell didn't exactly acquire the company, of course, but that's another story). At some point, he might pack it in, but it'll be on his terms and not in response to a journalistic posse. I write this not to defend the guy, but just to point out the obvious: that the newspaper business has far more problems than one billionaire owner who thinks he knows more than he does.