Contrast that to The Tribune Company, publisher of proud newspapers such as the LA Times and Chicago Tribune, and the subject of a devastating new book by James O'Shea (a former Trib editor) called "The Deal from Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers." The book tells the story of the disastrous merger of those two papers and their near-evisceration at the hands of financier Sam Zell. In a review of the book in Sunday's NY Times, Bryan Burrough writes:
So what does the future hold for journalism? Well, James O'Shea left the Tribune for the Chicago New Cooperative, one of a crop of new nonprofit news organization providing high quality, relevant journalism. There's also a movement to support community-based local, low power radio. But yet another story courtesy of the Times points to another outcome: "A Newsroom That Doesn't Need News.""For years, most large American newspapers were owned by families — the Grahams in Washington, the McCormicks in Chicago, the Chandlers in Los Angeles — but as those families grew and spread, their far-flung members sought greater returns. Beginning in the 1960s, many of the companies began going public, and therein can be found the underlying problem.
The demands placed upon publicly held companies — more profits, a higher stock price — cannot easily be reconciled with the demands of quality journalism, which needs more people and higher salaries than a cut-rate alternative. When newspapers faced any kind of challenge, whether from the Internet or higher newsprint costs, the answer has long been to cut costs, which leads inevitably to lower-quality journalism."