A Mistake


Tribune Co. Chairman and Chief ExecutiveSam Zelltold Bloomberg Television today
that his heavily leveraged 2007 acquisition of the Chicago Tribune
parent was “a mistake” in that he did not anticipate the steep decline
in the newspaper business.

“By definition, if you bought something and it’s now worth a great
deal less, you made a mistake and I’m more than willing to say I made a
mistake,” Zell said. “I was too optimistic in terms of the newspaper’s
ability to preserve its position.”

And I’m sorry, but no, Sam. That wasn’t optimism. That was, at best, hubris, and at worst, negligence that should be criminal. You went into the newspapers business. You would have to have been catatonic in the last 30 years to avoid the epic whining and bitching about the state of the newspaper business, I mean it’s been going on as long as I’ve been alive. Since the advent of the telegraph, I think. So to pretend that you went into this thinking it was all gonna be okay … it either makes you the stupidest person on the face of the earth today, or a liar without the pride to come up with something even remotely credible. You pick.


2 thoughts on “A Mistake

  1. What’s infuriating about this is that – at least my understanding is – TribCo is, sans debt, profitable. Not like it was in the past, obviously, but, y’know, it is not a money-losing proposition. Which, given the ham-fisted and badly organized relationship with the LAT, is maybe in itself a miracle.
    So Zell has 1) bankrupted a profitable company 2) forced his own hand in selling off the Chicago Cubs, as consistently money-making a machine as man has ever invented and an ideal buffer in rough economic times (save for plague or apocalypse, there’s enough money in this city to support the Cubs).
    Any idiot can wreck a shitty company that makes things no one wants; it takes real genius to wreck a successful one.
    What a great town for journalism, and one with no lack of talent. If one newspaper owner hadn’t screwed the pooch in the past few years out of the three that are bankrupt, the marginal gains they could make with that talent, and the increasingly alienated readerships, would be hugely valuable.

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