The Tribune Company and the L.A. Times have been purchased by Sam Zell, a “flamboyant” Chicago real estate tycoon with zero newspaper-managing experience who “fancies Ducati motorcycles, leather jackets [and] playing paintball,” according to an L.A. Times article by Thomas S. Mulligan and James Rainey.
Zell is a self-made billionaire, and — judging from what I’m reading here — a bit of a rube. In a 12.04 interview with the N.Y. Times, “Zell suggested that he did not have a high opinion of journalists,” according to a 4,2 piece by Katherine Q. Seelye and Andrew Ross Sorkin. “I started out as a kid thinking that reporters are out there to do good, to expose the world to the truth,” Zell is quoted as saying. “Over the years I’ve gotten a lot smarter. I’ve gotten a lot thicker skin.”
Manhattan-based entertainment journalist Lewis Beale says, “I’ve been a staff writer for three dailies — two individually owned, and one run by a chain. And I’ll take the chain ownership any day of the week. Not subject to individual whims, prejudices and bizarre peccadillos. Chains sure aren’t perfect, but they’ve definitely got the billionaire bozo-owner beat.”
“I feel really sorry for the folks at the L.A. Times and Newsday,” he adds. “They are in for some hard times.”