What The Zell Is Going On Here?!
Those of us watching the soap opera that has become The Tribune Companies since it was acquired by Sam Zell probably knew something like this was coming. We collectively held our breath as Zell punched and squeezed his media empire like a hand full of Nutty Putty. We suspect he will eventually begin breaking it up, selling off the pieces to pare down some of the mountain of debt he incurred for the purchase.
TOM JOHNSON'S BOMBSHELL
I'm referring, of course, to Daily Pilot Publisher Tom Johnson's column today, HERE, in which he announced dramatic changes at the Daily Pilot. I have to tell you that reading Johnson's announcement was like being punched in the gut.
First, he told us that 14 staff members of the seven newspapers that make up the Times Community Newspapers, including the Daily Pilot, were laid off last week. That explains the absence of some familiar bylines recently.
DARK MONDAYS AHEAD
That was bad enough, but he followed that up by announcing that the Daily Pilot - the newspaper of record for the Newport-Mesa area for the best part of a century - will no longer be a daily newspaper! Nope, henceforth the Daily Pilot will be published Tuesday through Sunday, with Monday being a "dark" day.
OMEN OF THINGS TO COME?
It's not so much that we'll be losing "our" news on Mondays, but it's a statement about the condition of newspapers in general - they are living on the brink.
DAILY PILOT IS IMPORTANT
I'm disappointed with this turn of events. The Daily Pilot has been a big part of my life since we moved here thirty-five years ago. It's been even more so for me since I began writing letters and commentaries that appeared on its pages in 2001.
A FORUM LIKE NO OTHER
The Daily Pilot has provided a forum for discussion of important issues in our community, almost always covering issues accurately and without bias. It's given those of us with opinions a place to present them to our neighbors for their consideration. The editors have tolerated and presented views from their readers that others felt were repugnant. They have published opinions by writers who, with their next breath, offered scathing criticism of the editors and the Daily Pilot itself. The editors have accepted submissions from those of us with only the most marginal writing skills and made them better.
KEEPING OUR FINGERS CROSSED
I hope these moves announced by Johnson are the last we will hear as Sam Zell goes about maximizing his investment. The Daily Pilot and it's sister publications have been the information anchor in their communities. For us to lose them would be to extinguish the bright light of public awareness on important issues being considered by our elected leaders.
WISHING THE PILOT WELL
I wish all the good folks at the Daily Pilot the very best of luck and hope these changes are enough to keep the wolf from the door.