Tribune Co. to file bankruptcy

Among other newspapers, the Trib owns the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. Sam Zell, aging real estate developer, bought the Trib boasting about how he would pump up the subscriber base, yet by his utter cluelessness and short-sighted greed, has managed to come close to destroying it.

The Phoenix Principle has a superb article detailing how Zell completely misunderstood the newspaper business and ignored the Internet.

What will you cost us Sam Zell – Tribune bankruptcy

Sam Zell did a horrible job of scenario planning. He didn’t look into the future and develop scenarios about what was likely to happen in news. Instead, he simply assumed that readers would return if he made a few format and editorial changes, the economy would strengthen and he could depend on advertisers returning as well. He expected a fast, big payback for his investment. Just like he’d done in real estate all those years.

Zell wanted to fix up the Trib then flip it and move on. But he apparently has never understood that readers of newspapers increasingly have moved on to the Internet. And because of his myopia, many will now lose their jobs – including friends of ours.

We need a requirement that if you buy a business you first must demonstrate basic competence in and understanding of that business. Thousands will probably now lose their jobs because an aging billionaire who didn’t need more money greedily wanted to make more and obviously had no interest in the business itself or its employees.