Zell 'Clueless' About Journalism and Democracy

What he's done to, and says about, Tribune Co. shows fundamental misunderstanding
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2008 3:37 PM CST
Sam Zell comments on his purchase of the Tribune Company during a news conference last year.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Sam Zell may or may not turn the Tribune Company around, but his ownership has crippled “real newsgathering,” Peter Osnos writes in the Daily Beast. “If Tribune goes down, he will still be very rich,” Osnos continues, “but he will have presided over the evisceration of some of our best newspapers.” While Zell understands newspapers must make money, he ignores the commodity they sell: the news.

In trying to inject some entrepreneurship into the industry, Osnos writes, Zell has created “a lousy business and a newspaper that is no longer much good,” and shows he “was clueless about the role of journalism in a democratic society.” Zell criticizes the New York Times as a “charitable trust” dedicated to incisive reporting regardless of cost, but if the Tribune Co. doesn’t pursue excellence in news, it will have nothing to sell.