So driven to please Wall Street, the Tribune Company is further wrecking whatâ€™s left of the editorial vitality in their already journalistically-battered newspapers. Look whatâ€™s happened to the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, and Newsday. These and other Tribune outlets have witnessed a departure of fine reporters and editors, including award winners (such as Pulitzers). Morale at the Tribune papers is understandably low. The message is clear: they donâ€™t want to spend the money it takes to do serious journalism. Now this chain is even dismissing many U.S. employees as it outsources its circulation/customer service to the Philippines. Meanwhile, the Tribune Company is engaged in a lobbying [registration may be required] and PR effort to scuttle federal media ownership safeguards. It wants to end the key newspaper-TV cross-ownership rule, designed to ensure a community gets diverse sources of news and information. Tribune execs are telling policymakers that by being allowed to own more TV stations, it will help journalism. They are lying. They just want more of that easy money coming from the TV business. Company financials extol the profits made via such Tribune Entertainment productions as “Beastmaster” and “Mutant X.â€ Owning more TV stations, if the FCC axes the rule Tribune has targeted, wonâ€™t help journalism. But it will likely help them distribute a new round of Beastmasters.
We hope the FCC and Congress take notice. Weakening media ownership rules has permitted a Tribune to grow in size and powerâ€”but without any meaningful public interest quid pro quo. The Tribune should be ashamed of itself, in terms of a lack of commitment to journalism and also for its cutting back on employing people who live in the U.S.