Monday, December 08, 2008

TRIBUNE FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY: LA TIMES eventually kaput?

"The company that owns the Los Angeles Times, KTLA Channel 5 and the Chicago Tribune filed for bankruptcy protection today, seeking relief from $12 billion in debt that largely stems from last year's leveraged buyout of the media firm," read a story on the Los Angeles Times website minutes ago.

"Tribune Co. directors approved the action to seek Chapter 11 protection in a meeting today, saying they want to restructure payments to banks and other creditors ..."

The full story is here.

(Reader beware: DD doesn't recommend the LA Times website. In the company's unsuccessful efforts to squeeze blood from stones in cyberspace, it's erected one of the worst reading experiences on the Internet. This particular story will shove one of those vexing ads that inflates under your mouse pointer, blocking the text, through your browser. And the next time your mouse accidentally drifts over it, back it will come. Talk about symbolically signalling one's desire to annoy as many people as possible with bad news about your state of health.)

The Los Angeles Times is owned by Sam Zell, a bona fide rich creep from Chicago who doesn't appear like LA much anymore. Zell and his cronies were all about lording it over the Times when they took over, publicly berating employees, cursing them out and informing them of unobvious things like it's "un-American not to like pussy."

Zell, who has thought of himself as something of an ace mega-businessman, has not even been able to sell one of Tribune's most valuable properties, the Chicago Cubs.

Since the coming of this very small man, the Times has been in a race to the bottom. It has purged employees in a string of firings/layoffs and been divested of its Washington bureau. (The latter happening just after the election.)

In compensation for giving up on things like, well -- control over how future elections and national news coverage of stuff coming out of Washington, it has gone whole hog for character-driven personality pieces which its journalists can option to Hollywood and inflated its features section with meaningless fluff on the latest science-fiction blockbuster movies and the hottest news of goings-on at nearby comic book conventions. It has either driven off or fired many of its best investigative reporters. But it has kept most of the trivial hagiography-writing rock and movie critics, showing readers that some of its own editors seemingly think very little of it, viewing its future as one in which the newspaper is to be transformed into a cheap shopper as quickly and nastily as possible.

Now there may not even be long-term hope for that.

Previously -- on bad happenings at the LA Times.

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