Newspaper Tycoon to Slash and Burn
Sam Zell seems to get a kick out of antagonizing his critics, some of his own reporters among them, but this time the Tribune Co. boss has really outdone himself. Zell has announced a new model for his newspapers: 50 percent news and 50 percent ads. At the Los Angeles Times, that will mean 82 fewer pages of news every week.
That paper has already suffered years of staff cuts under Zell and his predecessors.
The argument, of course, is that newspapers have to compete with new media and must do that by offering local readers what they want. Then again, one way to compete is by offering a superior product, and readers in L.A. might respond that what they want is a quality newspaper (as opposed to a thinned out half-ad summary of local sports).
WAIT, BEFORE YOU GO…
New York Times:
John Morton, an independent newspaper analyst, thinks that tipping point has already arrived at many papers.
“To the extent you diminish your product, I think you diminish your success, in print or online,” he said. “In the long run, it’s going to be harmful to newspapers’ brand names, which is the strongest thing they’ve got.”
As newspapers suffer through steep losses in circulation and advertising, Mr. Morton says many of them have accelerated the process by offering readers less, trying to cut costs and preserve unrealistic profit margins. “It’s a strategy, basically, of gradually closing down,” he said.
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