Hartford Courant circling the drain


The Hartford Courant, founded in 1764 and publishing ever since, just announced draconian cutbacks. They will layoff 100 workers, leaving just 135, about half the number they had at the start of 2008. One wonders if the Courant can survive at all or if it will just slowly fade away, reprinting news wire stories along with lost cat reports. (I grew up in the Hartford CT area, and the Courant was on the doorstep every morning, so in a sense, this is personal.)

They blame the decline in advertising revenue, the business slump, and the bankruptcy of their parent corporation, the Chicago Tribune.

Sam Zell is an aging billionaire who doesn’t need more money, yet was allowed to buy the Chicago Tribune so he could flip it like real estate and maybe plunder the pension fund along the way too. Sickening. Instead he’s managed to destroy many jobs and careers, and lots of his own money too. An fine example indeed of the rapacious capitalism that has succeeded in tanking the economy through greed and stupidity.

The robber barons of the past may have played rough but at least they built and created stuff. Cornelius Vanderbilt created an empire of steam ships and railroads. He paid his people well, kept his ships and trains in superb shape, and after he got a monopoly on the railroads (hold on for this) he dropped the prices so more would use them. When he died, he was a hero to the common man. Can’t imagine the public at large will honor Sam Zell much when he’s gone.

Another big problem with newspaper can be summed up in one word, CraigsList. Why pay for classifieds when you can list ads for free instead? Newspapers, with a few exceptions like WSJ, never really got on the web clue train.

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