Friday, January 20, 2006

New Cutbacks At The Sick Old Chicago Tribune

The ill-managed Chicago Tribune is off on new cost cutbacks, diminishing its already low quality, reactionary editorials and unexciting prose, sending its more astute readers to the rival Chicago Sun-Times. It's a porridge of poor journalism, and it shows we haven't seen the worst yet from Dennis FitzSimons and company.

This sorry bunch of losers and slackers always has one thing in mind: What can they do to give the readers less.

The Tribune's books section carried an announcement that as of Jan. 22, it will become a tabloid. This will have less space than the Tribune's old book review section, and thought was also given to moving the section to Saturday from Sunday. That would have produced 400,000 fewer copies, but it turned out it would have cost Tribune more, because of contracts with distributors requiring it to pay them extra to stuff another section into the Saturday paper.

Meanwhile, while the L.A. Times editorial pages has fuzzed up its stand on the reactionary Bush Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito, the Tribune, more openly lining up with Bush, is all for him.

"Plenty of critics fault Alito for his judicial philosophy," said the Tribune in an editorial endorsing him even before Senate hearings on his nomination began. "When it comes to his qualifications, though, Alito is about as good as nominees get." The Tribune lauded his intelligence, diligence, civility and intellectual honesty.

I imagine Times editorial pages editor Andres Martinez and Chicago-toadying L.A. Times publisher Jeffrey Johnson will further alter their views. They already endorsed John Roberts for the Supreme Court, and on the assisted suicide decision last week, where was Roberts? Right there with Scalia and Thomas, a new rightwing axis on the High Court.

A commentary on the Tribune by Hot Type, a Chicago press commentary, asked:

"Which story would you read? Sun-times, front page, January 4: 'Ryan to O'Malley: Expletive Deleted." Tribune, page one Metro, same day: "Ryan reply was curt, jury told."

This is par for the course. The Tribune is a stodgy paper, poorly, unexcitedly written. Had its directors been smart, they would have folded the Tribune coverage under L.A. Times supervision long ago, moved the company's headquarters to Los Angeles and tried to forget they ever published a Chicago paper.

But, no, they go on with further cutbacks in all the papers purchased in 2000 from Times-Mirror. And on Kevin Roderick's L.A. Observed blog today, there's a brief item saying that Times revenues continues to lag behind that of the Chicago Tribune, perhaps presaging further cutbacks at the Times.

I begin a round-the-world trip today, and will be filing periodically from India and New Zealand for the next month.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see the newspaper you put out. You are so much smarter than everyone else, it must be frustrating to observe all the hacks out there. How do you stand it? You are to be admired for taking the time out of your fulfilling life to educate us on how bad Tribune is. Thank you.

1/20/2006 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Jim Fulton said...

Anti-Alito? Anti-Schwarzenegger? Pro-Tim Rutten? C'mon, Ken, stop calling yourself a Republican.

1/21/2006 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Davo said...

Ken Reich has some very stereotypical liberal to even leftwing reactions. Therefore, take a lot of his comments with a big grain of salt. And, as such, I bet he'd be no less likely to screw up the Times as much as anyone else in the world of journalism.

1/21/2006 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

{{{ there's a brief item saying that Times revenues continues to lag behind that of the Chicago Tribune, perhaps presaging further cutbacks at the Times. }}}

Shouldn't that tell you something, Ken? Your simplistic views make you think the paper is suffering mainly because it's poorly managed or not good enough. But even though it is of higher standing than the Tribune, it's doing no better or not much better financially than the Chicago paper.

Your liberal instincts, therefore, probably make you want to blame the newspaper's weaknesses on low taxes, "reactionary" politicians, or, hey, pro-censorship Bush appointees on the Supreme Court.

1/21/2006 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knowing Ken, I feel he is much more a Libertarian than a Republican, if he is that at all.

Certainly not a right winger, Ken has a liberal streak that often overcomes his economic good sense.

Ken is a complex guy who does not like people to disagree with him, and often demonstrates that trait.

As a reporter with a byline, he was able to take such positions and silence his critics by overwhelming them with ink and newsprint ("Never get into an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel." - Mark Twain), but he's no longer able to do that.

Power is intoxicating, and the power of a reporter on the Times, before the Internet and the bloggers ruined the newspaper business was pretty powerful.

I'm afaid all Ken has left is the hangover.

1/24/2006 6:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just can't stand to anything other than a liberal-leftist stance in the newspaper, can you, Ken?

In your sad, skewed view of reality, a "well-managed" paper is one that leans as far left as you want it to. How silly to tie management effectiveness to editorial leanings.

Tribune may be ill-managed, but it is not because it is not left-wing enough.

1/24/2006 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who's known Ken Reich very well for 35 years, I think it's absolutely hilarious that so many readers of this blog find him to be a "left-wing liberal." Anyone who's ever heard Ken opine on the war in Iraq or the war on terror (which, sorry guys, are NOT one and the same) would more accurately describe him as a right-wing reactionary. Ken's views on foreign policy drive me crazy, but what makes this blog even remotely tolerable is his populist streak, which consistently places him on the side of working people, low-income people, women, and (most) minorities. Ken has many, many faults, but at heart he is a fair and decent person, with some very complicated, often contradictory, and yes, even weird views.

The biggest advantage, and arguably the biggest drawback, of the blogosphere is that it gives anyone who's willing to post an amplified voice. Ken's is just one voice, and I disagree with him as often as anyone else. But his voice deserves to be heard. Personal attacks against him only cheapen the attackers. But of course, among the right-wing reactionaries, personal attack is par for the course. Too bad these folks are running the country--it bodes ill for both our political discourse and for the future of our democracy.

1/25/2006 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Davo said...

{{{ Anyone who's ever heard Ken opine on the war in Iraq or the war on terror }}}

Oh, big whoop. He's a liberal when it comes to many or most other issues.

(And I also posted the earlier message about Times' revenues lagging the Tribune's.)

1/25/2006 6:11 PM  

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