The Last Days of the Tribune Company?

Posted by Mitchell - August 8, 2008 (entry 607)

Do we see signs that the Tribune is a sinking ship? Since June, Tribune Publisher Scott Smith has bolted, as has longtime Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski, not to mention the publisher of the (waived) Tribune-owned L.A. Times, among "several high-ranking officers at Tribune [who] have already left or been forced out".

Reports continue about dismay at the Tribune over the real-estate magnate who thinks he knows something about media. And for good reason: They're planning to gut a bunch of journalist jobs and have been keeping to form.

What's more, the Tribune -- which had lobbied (and lost) to gut media ownership rules, but lobbied (and won) to keep their otherwise-illegal TV-newspaper duopolies -- is now selling or seriously considering to sell shit left and right: the Tribune Tower, New York Newsday, and some loser baseball team.

Oddly enough, Tribune won't sell any more newspapers in 2008 -- but why would they? After all, the newspaper industry by its own assessments is still humongously profitable despite Chicken Little claims to the contrary. But while we've previously talked about the end of the beginning regarding media activism, we could be seeing the beginning of the end for the Tribune Company. Unthinkable? The business press doesn't think so; Tribune appears to be heading to default on their debt. If that happens, the media landscape in Chicago would certainly change -- seeing as how Tribune has reach to some 90% of all Chicagoans. Break that up, or dissolve that, and you could well see a vacuum in Chicago's corporate media landscape. How would that be filled? That's for each of us to determine.

Related: This write-up in the cheerfully-named Newspaper Death Watch. And this follow-up in Media Daily News.

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