Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tribune Co. Owners May Be Susceptible To Pressure On Future Of L.A. Times

Written from China Poot Bay, Alaska--

A friend of mine in Los Angeles' corporate community e-mailed me he was not optimistic about the chances of a staff protest from the L.A. Times to cost cutting ordered by the Tribune Co. at the Times. He suggested corporations are notorious for their hardnosed attitudes toward such efforts.

He could be right, because corporate America is one of the biggest dummies in the world today. We see it at General Motors, for one.

But I'm guessing that right now there must be considerable angst at the Tribune Co., about the state of affairs at their 2000 aquisition, the L.A. Times.

After all, circulation is way down, their editor has just quit earlier than expected, their new editor is giving interviews far and wide about the dangers of cost cutting. Just how insensitive can these louts be at the corporate headquarters in Chicago?

My guess is that if they can give themselves half an excuse for doing so, the Tribune owners may cut a little slack for the L.A. Times.

They could start by freezing the cost cutting for a few months, while they tell the even more loutish people on Wall Street it is necessary.

And that's where the Times staff comes in. It cannot be shy about expressing itself in the present circumstances. It has to make some noise if there is to be even a moderately satisfactory result.

The Times staff already has a not undeserved reputation for being troublemakers.

"I was too poor to yield," was one of the most memorable policy explanations of Charles de Gaulle for how difficult he could make himself. The Times staff right now is in the same position. More cutbacks at the Times could easily ruin the paper, making it a laughing stock throughout the nation.

The rest of the press is paying attention to the Times, and not even the dullards in Chicago can really afford to ignore that.

So, I'd say, let's get started. Let's put some pressure on the Tribune leaders and remind them of their responsibilities. It may even help the Tribune Co., if the Times should rise above the present crisis.


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