Sunday, February 25, 2007

FitzSimons Returns To Tactics That Don't Work

Written from San Carlos, California

Dennis FitzSimons, incorrigibly inept CEO of the Tribune Co. is apparently back to the same tactics he used that didn't work last June. He wants to assume more debt, and cut back the Tribune's faltering newspapers even more.

That is unless he accepts a last-minute proposal from Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell to buy the company. But that too would mean assuming more debt, and probably cutting back newspapers outside Chicago. Has Zell even visited Los Angeles?

To the end of further cutbacks,, word has spread that Tribune intends to fold the L.A. Times Book Review into the Current section. Save a little money, while curtailing coverage of many books, reducing the number of letters the paper runs, even while most newspapers are increasing reader comments. It's all depressingly familiar.

This is the axis of stupidity at work. Keep cutting back, circulation will fall, layoffs will be repeated, and ultimately these newspapers will all fail miserably.

Yes,, the bids for Tribune are disappointing, but they were bound to be, what with the firing of editor Dean Baquet and other executives and the foisting of incompetent new leadership on the Times and other former Times-Mirror papers.

After entertainment mogul David Geffen created a scene in the Democratic race for President last week, dissing Sen. Hilary Clinton and embarrassing Sen. Barack Obama, it began to appear that he might not be the best buyer of the L.A. Times.

Still, the Times can hardly do worse than it's doing now. Even Zell might be better than FitzSimons.

A new round of cutbacks is probably around the corner. And, as I've remarked before, Californians hate losers, they will not stand by losers. So the Times will do nothing but go on down. By the time a sale takes place, the newspaper may not be much.

FitzSimons must have been eating too much Chicago food. His brain does not work properly.



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