Patterico's Pontifications

1/24/2009

More L.A. Times Layoffs Rumored

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 11:02 am

Kevin Roderick reports:

The Los Angeles Times staffers I’ve heard from seem pretty convinced there will be a new round of newsroom bloodletting next week, with many fearing the firing starts Monday.

I told you back on the 11th that the unconfirmed rumor was that another 100 layoffs were on the horizon.

Stay tuned.

I also am delinquent in noting that Al Martinez was canned, again. If you want to read about him injuring his shin or buying a puppy, you won’t be able to in the L.A. Times.

65 Responses to “More L.A. Times Layoffs Rumored”

  1. Why the snark about Al Martinez? Like Jack Smith did, he writes about daily life. When accomplished with wit and charm, it’s something a lot of people take pleasure in reading.

    Martinez was sometimes controversial, as was Smith. They were both ex-Marines and combat veterans who sometimes wrote passionately and outspokenly against war. Smith was the better writer, especially about Los Angeles and Southern California. He was a native, whereas both Martinez and Steve Lopez are transplanted Bay Area folks.

    Martinez had a following and a particular sensibility that has become rare in the media world. I think he’ll be missed. The Times continues to get smaller, in too many senses of the word.

    But however small it gets, Patrick, I suspect it will never reflect your view of the world to your satisfaction.

    Tim McGarry (7121a4)

  2. By the way, the import of Kevin’s item — that either the California section or Business will fold — is appalling, at least to this reader.

    Tim McGarry (7121a4)

  3. I still recall a very snark-filled, very-liberal-biased piece that Martinez did about George Bush around 2 years ago. It caught me off guard because, first of all, Martinez’s column always had been in the soft-features (the non-op-ed) section of the newspaper and because I never recalled such ideological venom coming from him in the past.

    Martinez, since I’m sure he’s aware of the generally non-political nature of his column, and most importantly that it did not appear on the op-ed page, should have either toned down that particular piece or scrapped it altogether. That he didn’t — and worse of all, that he undoubtedly believes his liberalism makes him so humane and caring and therefore especially enlightened to bash his political foes in a supposedly non-partisan part of the LA Times– indicated to me it was time for the old geezer to go away.

    Mark (411533)

  4. Watching your companions die in the frozen terrain of a Korean winter evidently leaves an impression, Mark. I wouldn’t begrudge him his passions.

    Tim McGarry (7121a4)

  5. So what you’re basically postulating is that any war veteran is above reproach for hateful writings that he publishes in the public sphere? That’s an interesting brand of moral relativism you’re engaging in – I wonder what you’d think if the shoe was on the other foot.

    Dmac (eb0dd0)

  6. Watching your companions die in the frozen terrain of a Korean winter evidently leaves an impression

    Oh, I guess Al Martinez also has been in, and directly experienced, the frontlines during his time serving as a police officer too?


    Jack Dunphy, Patterico.com:

    In Monday’s Los Angeles Times, columnist Al Martinez wrote in praise of LAPD officer Randy Simmons, who was shot and killed Feb. 7 during an attempted rescue in the San Fernando Valley. But even in praising Simmons, Martinez can’t resist reminding his readers of the low opinion he has held of police officers. He began the column as follows:

    In the volatile world of the street, cops haven’t always been the good guys.

    …Apparently, Martinez knows nothing about police officers other than what is printed in his own newspaper.

    Mark (411533)

  7. Why the snark about Al Martinez?

    Click the link provided in the post, Tim, and find out!

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  8. I too wouldn’t miss Al Martinez … assuming I was still reading the LAT.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  9. But however small it gets, Patrick, I suspect it will never reflect your view of the world to your satisfaction.

    That’s the lazy attitude generally taken by left-leaning defenders of the paper: that my criticisms have little to do with distortions and misrepresentations, and everything to do with a failure to represent “my view of the world.”

    I’m sure it makes you feel better to think that, so carry on.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  10. I’m not postulating anything, Dmac, nor have I said anything that implies moral relativism.

    I will note, however, that what seems to stick in the craw of our host is that Martinez had the temerity to criticize bloggers. Tsk, tsk.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  11. Thanks, Patrick. I will carry on.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  12. But you see, these uneducated bloggers, like Patterico, have the temerity to use documentation and various other facts in their claim to use truth when they inform, unlike Martinez, who makes no such claims. So, when bloggers say things Martinez doesn’t believe to be wholesome, he holds them to higher standards than he does himself. After all, he made no such claims to be using the high standards and stuff, so his standards are lower than those the bloggers often place on themselves.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  13. So, until Bradley Fikes buys The Los Angeles Times, where is the bottom? I don’t know if our esteemed host has thought of keeping a running tabulation of newsroom positions eliminated, but at some point you have to start asking: how many people does it take to produce the newspaper?

    You posted this at 1402 (real time, not that three hours backwards time y’all use on the left coast), and then just 2:06 later you published another article documenting a quality issue with the Times, a problem which obviously occurred before the rumored coming lay-offs have happened.

    From your annual Year in Review series, it’s obvious that the Times has had these quality problems for several years, prior to the several different lay-off cycles through which that august newspaper has gone. So, if quality, as indicated by journalistic integrity, is not a concern, all that is left is to figure out at what point the Times can no longer be produced at all.

    The Dana who asks serious questions (556f76)

  14. By the way, Patrick, by way of balance, note that I’ve communicated before that sometimes I find you persuasive and that I believe your enterprise here has value. We will often disagree, however, and I am willing to engage when I have time or find the topic at hand to be of special interest.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  15. TDWASQ:

    It’s a difficult question with an ongoing newspaper, or any business. Do you base your decisions on who should stay, or who should go?

    In other words, do we start with the remaining LAT employees and decide who needs to be given time to pursue other interests, or do we begin with zero-based budgeting and hire those who are necessary or at least greatly contributing to the newspaper?

    Whatever is done, it should be done as quickly as possible. Drawing out layoffs demoralizes the rest of the staff and gives an incentive to the most talented to leave.

    I hope they don’t kill the business section, and not just because I’m a business writer. Keep business and can the political hacks.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  16. I will note, however, that what seems to stick in the craw of our host is that Martinez had the temerity to criticize bloggers. Tsk, tsk.

    And I will note that his criticism was fairly ironic. Here is Martinez:

    A blogger occupies a website from which comments emerge in various forms to clutter cyberspace with his or her opinions on politics, war, movies, sex, music, medicine, health, aerobics, food, marriage, animals … and, well, just about everything. No subject is too lofty or too inane for the blogger.

    And here is Martinez being non-inane and writing about only important topics:

    I am well cared for by this wonder of all women, but I am still not happy with my condition. I am generally miserable around the house — which isn’t too different from my usual conduct — but I am beginning to shower again and comb my hair a little. Tomorrow I’ll go back to brushing my teeth.

    How could we do without writing like that?

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  17. Maybe if you were a little older and more frail, you would see more merit in the latter passage.

    Saw your mention of back pain the other day. Hope it’s getting better. Like Laura Bush, my vulnerabilities are primarily cervical. I find ice helps the most.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  18. #17: a prime example of rationalization as opposed to being rational.

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  19. My, I have become a morally relativistic rationalizer, without even trying. All in a days work, I guess.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  20. Mr Hitchcock misunderstands:

    But you see, these uneducated bloggers, like Patterico, have the temerity to use documentation and various other facts in their claim to use truth when they inform, unlike Martinez, who makes no such claims. So, when bloggers say things Martinez doesn’t believe to be wholesome, he holds them to higher standards than he does himself. After all, he made no such claims to be using the high standards and stuff, so his standards are lower than those the bloggers often place on themselves.

    Exactly wrong. To professional journalists, they set their own standards and are their own documentation.

    Perhaps you will recall that, when President Merkin Muffley told the Soviet ambassador that we had nothing in the works like a “doomsday device,” Ambassador Alexi de Sadesky replied, ending the argument, “Our source was The New York Times.

    It was a maxim: whatever your argument, if you found supporting documentation in the Grey Lady, you had proved your point. As our society’s investigators, our newspapers were their own documentation. It was assumed that solid and reliable editors checked their reporter’s work, and that the reporters followed established standards for research and proof, but, in the end, the published paper was its own documentation.

    Even more than that, the journalists claimed a right to protect their sources, one which they held superseded the right of a criminal defendant to a fair trial. Such a position not only held that the “public’s right to know” outweighed the individual’s (or the government’s) rights to produce all of the evidence at a trial, but, inter alia, that the journalists were the sole arbiters of their own standards, sources and veracity.

    Of course, Mr Martinez has expressed himself concerning the loathsomeness of bloggers:

    When I first heard the term (blog), I thought it defined a loathsome place of brackish water and quicksand where little children and lost drunks were swallowed up in the gooey mess, never to be heard of again.

    One suspected that trolls could be seen around blogs, sneaking in and out of the surrounding underbrush, delighting in the agony they were witnessing.

    Since then I have learned that, with some notable exceptions, blogs are largely the habitat of unemployed writers, enraged misanthropes, retired teachers, aging journalists and people who normally pass their time doodling or making obscene telephone calls.

    A blogger occupies a website from which comments emerge in various forms to clutter cyberspace with his or her opinions on politics, war, movies, sex, music, medicine, health, aerobics, food, marriage, animals

    The term is a short way of saying Web log and is thought to be the modern version of a person who keeps a diary, the difference being that a diarist rarely runs around shoving his words in everyone’s face. The computer allows one to do just that in a sense, to hurl messages at us whether we want them or not. And once in a while, they’re hurled at me.

    Though I’m uncertain of how we go about “shoving his words in everyone’s face,” given that people normally have to seek out and deliberately click in to a website, rather than having Patterico’s Pontifications come via pop-up, Mr Martinez’ words clearly indicate that the words written by those not employed by a Reputable Journalistic Source are of lesser — or no — quality and uncertain (at best) reliability.

    Which makes the circle complete. Not only are journalists their own documentation, but they are also the arbiters of the worth and veracity of everyone else.

    It becomes, therefore, sort of karmic justice that Mr Martinez has joined the ranks of we unemployed writers, enraged misanthropes, retired teachers, aging journalists and people who normally pass their time doodling or making obscene telephone calls.

    The Dana who is the soul of brevity (556f76)

  21. I meant to conclude, but left out, that I don’t celebrate anyone losing his job — though I would certainly make an exception for Barack Obama — but that, on occasion, such things seem to contain the seeds of their internal justice.

    The Dana who hit the publish button too soon (556f76)

  22. It’s fine to write about inane stuff, Tim. I do it all the time. I’m just saying, if you do, don’t pretend you don’t.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  23. Brother Fikes asked:

    It’s a difficult question with an ongoing newspaper, or any business. Do you base your decisions on who should stay, or who should go?

    Yes.

    Getting past the snarky answer, the obvious question that any business which must restructure or change its way of doing thin gs is: what is it we do to make money in this business, and how do we accomplish that? It is the fundamental, “core business” question that so often doesn’t get asked.

    For The Los Angeles Times, most of the people therein would answer: uncovering and reporting the news. Trouble is, that isn’t the right answer. Their core business is distribution of printed material. Their method of business is to uncover and report the news in a fashion which will cause people to buy the printed material, and businesses to advertise therein.

    That’s an uncomfortable notion to journalists, because it means that they and their product are not the be-all and end-all of their industry. They could just as easily be replaced by Page 3 girls, as our forebears across the pond have learned.

    And that means that journalists are subject to quality issues: their product, in order to remain the method used to sell the printed material, must be subject to the decisions of consumers. If they don’t provide content for which people are willing to pay, they’re done.

    For two centuries, newspapers were a monopoly in form: while individual newspapers might compete, there was no competition to the industry in general. Now, there is.

    Which means that before buying the Times, the wise investor would be asking the question: can this product be continued, in anything like its current form, and make money?

    It is, unfortunately, in the specific instance like a business school asking if it should continue the keypunch operator classes.

    The Dana who understands at least a little about business (556f76)

  24. I have to agree with The Dana. What is left on Spring Street? Why don’t they just end the slow spiral into the drain and declare BK? The innocents there (not the reporters) must be in agony waiting for the shoe to drop.

    Patricia (89cb84)

  25. Patricia, the Tribune Co., which owns the Times, has filed for bankruptcy.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  26. Martinez served in Korea. “Tailgunner Joe” Senator McCarthy served in WW II. Both Senators–and POTUSA candidates McCain and Kerry served in Viet Nam–and indeed so did the Goracle his own self, albeit as an Army “journalist” far from the lines and far from the exploding rice baskets that so grievously wounded Kerry. Senator Bob Dole almost died on a hillside in Italy in WWII and lost the use of his hand.

    So what’s the point? “watching your friends die in frozen Korea will leave an impression”.>
    Of course it will–but I submit to you that the Los Angeles Times would take a very different view of the value of some drivel spewing out of Tailgunner Joe McCarthy’s mouth than they would from say Al Gore, John Kerry or Al Martinez.

    Martinez had his day in the Times’ sun; and now it’s time to let some other guy come in and write drivel and drool in his oatmeal. Heck, if I want to at age 65, I can drool in my own oatmeal–I don’t need Martinez to tell me how.

    Mike Myers (674050)

  27. Dana of Many Names,

    Their core business is distribution of printed material. Their method of business is to uncover and report the news in a fashion which will cause people to buy the printed material, and businesses to advertise therein.

    I don’t think so, although as a business reporter I understand what you’re getting at. The core business is information, explaining things. Ads are sold around that. Print is the medium in which information and ads have been traditionally distributed.

    But when your readers/customers start deserting print and going online, it is good business sense to follow them. Clinging to print for print’s sake is not logical.

    That’s an uncomfortable notion to journalists, because it means that they and their product are not the be-all and end-all of their industry. They could just as easily be replaced by Page 3 girls, as our forebears across the pond have learned.

    That is not true of the Times core readership, which is not going to be attracted by going downmarket. Trying to turn the LAT into something completely different would just alienate everyone else who’s stuck with the paper, and not draw in many more readers.

    And think, if making dying newspapers profitable were that easy — lots of hot chick pix and firing all those expensive reporters — it would have already been done. There is a certain market for that, of course, but it’s not going to work for most newspapers.

    I’ll close by saying that newspapers are handicapped in the Internet age by their legacy devotion to print, which still gets them most of the revenue. Despite the rhetoric of making the Web central, newspaper editors and reporters are still overwhelmingly print-centric. To most journos, that’s the “real paper.” We are caught in a fatal contradiction, trying to serve the two masters of print and online.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  28. I too found Al Martinez to be mostly unbearable. He’s like the old codger that you have to invite over to Thanksgiving dinner even though you know he is going to spend the whole time talking about how much the hates the government, how the food at the rest home is so horrible, how kids today don’t appreciate all their elders did for them, how his back hurts all the time but the VA won’t do anything for him, how the drivers today are so much worse than they used to be, et cetera. The thing is, he may be absolutely right on many of his points, but no one wants to hear him kvetch the whole damn meal which is pretty much the reading experience of his Times column. Sorry, Tim McGarry, but if he had as many fans of his style of journalism as you seem to think he does I doubt if the paper would be getting rid of him.

    JVW (bff0a4)

  29. But it’s all easily explainable and excusable, because he watched fellow soldiers suffer in wartime.

    Dmac (eb0dd0)

  30. I wonder what has happened to news-rack circulation in response to the increase in price from $.50 to $.75?

    AD (f7d033)

  31. The fact that many print readers are going on-line to get their news only in part explains the reason for the downfall of the LAT and other newspapers. The Times could move entirely on-line and still suffer because many readers have learned not to trust the the paper when it comes to reporting the news fairly and accurately. On-line is doomed to fail also unless they entirely revamp the news room to so as to give the readers (print or online) balanced and honest reporting.

    skinner (1b29c5)

  32. Wow, this decline in left-wing, disgustingly biased, hide-Democrat-party-corruption-at-all-costs newspapers is … unprecedented.

    eucher (4f64bb)

  33. The Los Angeles Times staffers I’ve heard from seem pretty convinced there will be a new round of newsroom bloodletting next week, with many fearing the firing starts Monday.

    hmmmm….unprecedented

    con-gma (2237d0)

  34. Dmac, if anyone has the right to criticize America’s wars, it’s the men and women who served in them. That’s my only point.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  35. Point taken – however, it doesn’t make them immune from criticism of what their opinions are regarding those wars, and that was my main point.

    Dmac (eb0dd0)

  36. Martinez has his own blog. Oh, wait, the Bard of Topanga also has this blog. Now that he’s got plenty of time on his hands, maybe Al will start updating one or both, and we’ll see how many readers seek out his profound observations.

    Next up: Al Martinez’ soul-searing bout with toenail fungus.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  37. Any TV or Radio station, magazine, or newspaper is in the business of selling potential customers to advertisers.

    In order to be able to do that, they have to offer something that makes people watch/listen/read, but that’s a detail. The customers are the advertisers, and the product is the readership/viewership.

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  38. #36

    Bradley, by all accounts, the first attempt to push Al Martinez out at the Times caused a very sizable and angry reader response. May newspaper readers in northern San Diego County take up the cudgels in similar fashion for you, should the need arise.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  39. Tim, so what is the Trib filed for BK? Are you saying they’re going to remake a print version of the LAT that is profitable?! What can possibly be their business plan? End it now and save what you can.

    Patricia (89cb84)

  40. Tim,
    If I wrote at Martinez’ level, I’d deserve to be canned. His stuff is bathetic almost beyond description. For some imagery that will stick in your mind despite all efforts, (don’t read while eating), here’s a recent get-off-my-lawn emission from the Crotchety Bard of Topanga:

    As newspapers struggle to enhance their appeal to younger readers by dressing up their pages and limiting the use of words that exceed three syllables, I am filled with a growing need to help them survive.

    Readers of my column may have noticed that my own strong response to the effort is to be less scholarly in my output, eliminating topics like war and the economy in favor of dating, text messaging and how to screw like a vampire.

    Confusing words like ambience and environment no longer clutter my weekly essays while, on the other hand, I make good use of simpler terms such as she, it, crotch, butt and car, all of which contain a certain visual appeal to the young and the useless.

    In addition to which, in a continuing effort to be a part of whas happnon (that is “what’s happening” in the slurred argot of the hip) I have assumed the slouch and cool disdain of today’s young men, wearing my pants low enough to expose half of my behind and a T-shirt emblazoned with a series of suggestions of what you can do if you don’t like it. . . .

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  41. Patricia,
    I think the biggest problem with the LAT is its huge debt created by the sale Zell engineered. It’s not enough for the LAT to make a modest profit: It and other Tribune properties must make big profits to service the debt. That’s simply not possible.

    The Tribune has plenty of company in this dilemma, of course. Even without its giant credibility problems, the LAT would be in a desperate fight to survive.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  42. Post #34 is awfully close to the nonsense of Absolute Moral Authority and “chickenhawk” arguments.

    I would take them more seriously if the people who vociferously defend “antiwar” vets were also as supportive of more Republican vets.

    Ah, but that is different.

    Service should always matter. But not everyone who serves is a saint nor are they a sinner.

    Eric Blair (e92b94)

  43. #40

    Sounds to me like a pretty good description of the typical Yahoo! home page.

    #42

    “If anyone has the right to criticize America’s wars, it’s the men and women who served in them.”

    Eric, if you to argue with me, stick with the statements I actually make. If it’s a different set of statements that exercise you, take issue with the person or persons who made them. If that means you end up talking to yourself, that’s not my problem.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  44. I have assumed the slouch and cool disdain of today’s young men

    And the do-your-own-thang, we’s-hip culture that’s either embraced or greatly tolerated (“diversity rules!!”) by most people of Martinez’s ideological ilk probably will be ramped up a few notches in upcoming years, certainly in light of current political/social trends in Washington DC and Martinez’s own very libertine state of California, not to mention his one-party-only (referring to the political kind and not the social) homebase of “Hollyweird”—or a.k.a. as Third-World-hazy-and-in-a-daze Los Angeles.

    Mark (411533)

  45. Mark, I have to say that your run-on ad hominems do have a certain poetic rhythm.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  46. Oh, I have followed your style and content of argumentation on this blog, Mr. McGarry, and it’s not debate. Which is fine.

    You are free to defend whomever you like, of course. Just make sure that the supposedly nonpartisan reason you feel that a person is worthy of support has, well, no partisan element to it.

    Or just call it what it is. It’s simpler, really.

    Eric Blair (e92b94)

  47. I gather you’re trying to say something, Eric, but just can’t quite spit it out.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  48. As I say, you are quite obvious. Have a good evening.

    Eric Blair (e92b94)

  49. Must be something good on TV.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  50. EB, you ever have a student demand you debate the “then” clause of the student’s argument and ignore the flawed “if” clause of it at the same time?

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  51. I only wish, John. I wish.

    Eric Blair (e92b94)

  52. “If anyone” doesn’t mean “only,” John. Is that your interpretation?

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  53. Steven den Beste wrote:

    In order to be able to do that, they have to offer something that makes people watch/listen/read, but that’s a detail. The customers are the advertisers, and the product is the readership/viewership.

    Emphasis mine.

    If that’s the case, wouldn’t it make more sense to just distribute the newspaper to everyone, without charge? Circulation jumps dramatically (even though you cannot know how many people actually read it, and how many use it just to paper train puppies), and the papers then try to get sufficiently high prices from the advertisers to pay for the whole thing.

    The Dana who is not a business section writer (556f76)

  54. Brother Fikes wrote:

    I think the biggest problem with the LAT is its huge debt created by the sale Zell engineered. It’s not enough for the LAT to make a modest profit: It and other Tribune properties must make big profits to service the debt. That’s simply not possible.

    Sounds to me as though Mr Zall has created his own form of the sub-prime mortgage mess. How much of his “wealth” is in the form of an unrecoverable debt?

    The economically-challenged Dana (556f76)

  55. Dana, it’s my understanding that very little of Sam Zell’s personal wealth is at risk. The greatest risk is to the retirement assets of Tribune Co. employees.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)

  56. Tim is of course correct. What Zell did was pretty rank. He used the assets of the Trib employees to purchase the company, under the legal fiction that it became an employee-owned company. But the rights we commonly associate with ownership are held by Zell.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  57. Zell, and Tribune BK…
    This is just the latest version of the junk-bond takeover/insider buyout financing that we saw in the 80′s, that resulted in a lot of successful companies slowly broken up into their component parts to pay the debt service, until the original was no more, and in many cases, only a name was left (Thank You, Michael Milken).

    AD (dd47a7)

  58. TDWINABW:
    If that’s the case, wouldn’t it make more sense to just distribute the newspaper to everyone, without charge?

    That has been done in some cases, such as with alternative weeklies and the Examiner free newspapers. The price of a newspaper only covers a fraction of its total cost. When you buy a paper, you are paying for the physical printing and distribution costs, not for the reporting.

    So Den Beste is correct that advertisers are the ultimate customers. And that leads a lot of newspapers to pretty cravenly cater to advertisers at the expense of their readers. However, readers sense this, and the most unethical advertiser-pandering newspapers tend not to do well. The readers must feel that the paper is there to serve them. So readers are customers too, or there’s nothing to sell to advertisers.

    In a well-run newspaper, the newsroom employees concern themselves publishing that the public wants and needs to know. The account executives concern themselves with selling ads around that readership base.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  59. [...] again, Patterico has reported on another round of supposedly-impending layoffs at The Los Angeles Times. One of Patterico’s commenters, noting the host’s long-running critiques of the bias and [...]

    Common Sense Political Thought » Blog Archive » Eighteenth Century Technology: Part 6 — How professional journalism is eating its own vital organs (73d96f)

  60. If Mr Zell used retirement plans of Chicago Tribune employees to purchase The Los Angeles Times, did whatever retirement plans held by Times’ employees get rolled over into the Tribune retirement plans? If so, does that mean that the Times employees who have been laid off and may soon get laid off actually own part of the company that fired/ will fire them?

    The inquisitive Dana (556f76)

  61. Zell’s transaction obviously has made a bad situation far worse. But even without all the debt incurred in Zell’s buyout of the Tribune Company, one only has to look at the often wafer-thin editions (the print ones) of the LA Times to know that something, sooner or later, has gotta give.

    And since auto companies are, or have been, major advertisers in the print media, and since a combination of the Obama White House (“global warming is a horror and tragedy!”) and the nature-is-our-religion fervor of certain governors throughout the country (including the one in California) will result in even more burdens for that industry, I see another perfect storm being created for a good portion of the MSM, including the LA Times.

    Mark (411533)

  62. Comment by The inquisitive Dana — 1/25/2009 @ 9:47 am

    The Tribune Cos. owned the LAT well before the purchase by Zell of Tribune Cos.
    Are LAT employee retirement accounts comingled with the larger Tribune Cos? Good question.
    But, it would seem that Zell used the aggregate amount of the retirement accounts as collateral for the financing he found in the venture-capital community.
    Now, he has to pay back the VC’s with new financing – not a very good climate to be looking for new financing – or dip into those retirement funds to pay back the VC’s, which would be probably against the law, so….BK!
    Under BK, he could unload the retirement obligations onto the Feds (?).

    What he really needs to do is sell the Cubs.

    AD (dd47a7)

  63. He’ll sell the Cubs around the time they win their next World Series!

    The Cincinnati Reds' fan Dana (556f76)

  64. I see Mr. Obama eventually taking the lead from Mr. Sarkozy and will in time bail out these major newpapers so we can continue to be indoctrinated, er uh, enlightened and informed.

    President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday unveiled a mini-stimulus package worth €600m to help “save” the French newspaper industry from a plunge in advertising revenues, high production costs and the effects of its difficulty in adapting to the internet age.

    Mr Sarkozy said it was the “duty of the state” to help support the press. Given his creeping influence over the media – he is close to many media owners and recently changed the rules to allow himself to name the head of public television – public intervention might be regarded as controversial.

    But editors and media executives who listened to Mr Sarkozy at the Elysée palace welcomed the measures.

    The writing is one the wall, mon amis.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/117445b8-e97c-11dd-9535-0000779fd2ac.html

    Dana (137151)

  65. A government rescue of media companies is a very bad idea. I certainly wouldn’t support it.

    Tim McGarry (9fe080)


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