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Question of the day

Monday, Jan 7, 2013

* From a Crain’s editorial regarding the looming sale of the Chicago Tribune

Certainly, the newspaper has lost its status since 2000, when Tribune Co. bought the Los Angeles Times. Still, its sale to an out-of-town owner could end Tribune’s run as the most influential media outlet in Chicago. There are a couple of reasons to avoid that.

As a stand-alone entity, the paper would surely lose resources and staff, jeopardizing the sort of important journalism it still does.

First, it’s clearly better for Chicago to be home to one of the largest private companies in the U.S. Big corporations with engaged CEOs and headquarters here are part of the stew that makes us a great city. Think of St. Louis, where Belgium’s InBev bought locally owned Anheuser-Busch Cos. Next time the town needs a new stadium, it’s doubtful the brewer’s execs would pick up the phone.

Second, Chicago Tribune unmoored from a corporate parent is diminished. As a stand-alone entity, the paper would surely lose resources and staff, jeopardizing the sort of important journalism it still does, such as recent series on flame retardants, pension scams and debt problems in the suburbs. Who will pick up the torch? Certainly not thinly staffed “hyper-local” news sites or ambulance-chasing TV stations.

What’s more, Tribune is the only media outlet in Chicago willing to maintain the civic responsibility of vetting every candidate for public office, now that the Chicago Sun-Times has renounced that duty.

* The Question: Do you care if the Tribune is sold to an out-of-towner? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


25 Comments
  1. - grand old partisan - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 12:32 pm:

    Hey, we have an out-of-town Mayor - why not an out-of-town newspaper!


  2. - Crime Fighter - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 12:37 pm:

    The Illinois ownership has been a failure. They might as well have been owned by the Koch brothers.

    Crain’s is just right up there when it berates the Sun-Times, - a paper that just keeps getting better, when it says: “now that the Chicago Sun-Times has renounced that duty.”
    If we want to talk about renouncing any duty to be a sane, fair, and impartial news organization, no need to look farther that the Crainnies and the Tribbies. -Sheesh.


  3. - shore - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 12:43 pm:

    Most people I know stopped reading it 10 years ago so the answer is no.


  4. - J - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    I voted No. The Trib is so parochial, to the point that they’re not sure if Chicago truly is a global city.

    I know this might shock some people over there, but Chicago is not Cleveland.


  5. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 12:51 pm:

    I voted yes, I do not see the paper becoming worse. Something needs to be done and I only see an upside


  6. - Newsclown - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 12:54 pm:

    Based on their editorial page, the Trib was bought out by Martians or the aliens from the movie “They Live”, some time back, so foreign or out of town ownership may be moot now… That paper was once something really great. It is a shadow of those days when the powerhouse combo of paper, TV/Radio/ and Da Cubz ruled the media landscape.


  7. - Jimmy - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 12:56 pm:

    No - since they don’t endorse local Democrats (in a Democratic State, County and City) ever - any out of town owner (with the exception of Rupert Murdoch) has a better chance a doing a fair job of political analysis and endorsements than sticking with an out of touch and unfair local team.


  8. - Crime Fighter - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 12:59 pm:

    If Murdoch buys the Trib we may able to enjoy the ongoing saga of the AFSCME/Quinn conspiracy to redistribute the wealth of our oppressed Illinois millionaires. Fox can toperate it to double-down on the crazy.


  9. - Louis G. Atsaves - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 1:03 pm:

    I voted no. We still need local voices who care in Illinois, whether you agree with them or not. Will they be diminished as a stand alone newspaper? Sadly, this may happen. An example is the Chicago Sun-Times.

    The Chicago Sun-Times purchased all the collar county dailies and Pioneer Press local weekly papers a few years back. The results for the most part for the local Pioneer Press papers has been abysmal, with skeleton crews manning what is left of that chain. Local suburban news went from being strongly covered to being barely covered. The dailies are also struggling for relevance and resources and now their editorial offices are all being consolidated.

    I know it is a new media world out there, but . . .


  10. - Skeeter - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 1:04 pm:

    No, largely because I don’t think the Tribune currently does a very good job of covering City Hall.

    If you want to know the number of murders or the weather or who the Cubs are playing, it is great.

    If you want to know about what the City Counsel is up to, you will rarely find it in the Trib.


  11. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 1:11 pm:

    We voted “no”
    The Trib is a shell of what it once was
    Their sleezy dealings with Blagoof knocked them out of any serious consideration.
    There must be better uses for the money


  12. - Joe M. - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 1:20 pm:

    It would only mean that the Tribune would get its information from the Koch Brothers instead of the Commercial Club of Chicago. Not a whole lot of difference.


  13. - zatoichi - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 1:26 pm:

    I grew up in Chicago where the Trib, SunTimes, and Wally Phillips there every morning. Jobs moved us around the country. Always found at least the Sunday Trib at local bookstores. Moved back to Illinois and the regional distributor stopped carrying it. Have not missed it. Too many other options and any major story gets covered multiple ways. 60 Minutes just had a story on how big city papers are struggling to survive. If the locals do not support the local institutions how are newspapers supposed to be around?


  14. - walkinfool - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 1:56 pm:

    I just hope they get the resources needed to responsibly cover the news, regardless where the new onwers reside, and that the owners respect their local focus.


  15. - ArchPundit - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    —First, it’s clearly better for Chicago to be home to one of the largest private companies in the U.S. Big corporations with engaged CEOs and headquarters here are part of the stew that makes us a great city. Think of St. Louis, where Belgium’s InBev bought locally owned Anheuser-Busch Cos. Next time the town needs a new stadium, it’s doubtful the brewer’s execs would pick up the phone.

    Is Crain’s seriously saying that the Busch’s were engaged in Saint Louis before the InBev takeover?

    Wait, they seriously compared Saint Louis–a city of about 320,000 to Chicago? Even when compared by metro areas, they still aren’t comparable.

    But let’s go back to the Busch’s being engaged? The Busch’s lack of engagement with their own company let alone Saint Louis is the whole reason InBev was able to buy the brewer fairly easily.

    The difference since InBev bought Busch? Not much. Apparently there is a difference in where they are sending some of their potential MBAs, but that’s about it.


  16. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 2:16 pm:

    No. No one could be worse than Zell, who’s gutted every Trib property — especially The Trib, WGN-Radio and LA Times — to maximize short-term revenues at the expense of quality and brand value.

    He always intended to chop up the company and sell off the parts, anyway.

    Strange argument coming from Crains — publisher of Crains Cleveland Business, Crains Detroit Business, Crains New York Business and European Rubber News (my favorite), among others.


  17. - railrat - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 2:37 pm:

    voted no, agree with all above mostly cuz I’m a Sox fan !!!


  18. - Anyone Remember? - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 2:42 pm:

    No - Because of the abysmal coverage of the Illinois pension issue, particularly when contrasted with the St Louis Post Dispatch’s coverage (and the clear demarcation of news vs. editorials) of the St Louis City Police and Fire pension issues.


  19. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 3:49 pm:

    I voted a lukewarm no. Mostly agnostic.
    Besides, who reads Crain’s?


  20. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 3:50 pm:

    I voted yes, but mostly out of nostalgia for the golden days when newspapers were owned by a wealthy family (like Marshall Field). Some years they made money, some years they didn’t, but they covered the city and provided readers with news about our public business.

    I was once a delivery boy for the Small family’s flagship, the Kankakee Daily Journal. It wasn’t a great paper by any stretch of the imagination, mostly AP stories, high school sports and the police blotter (they ran Doonesbury on the opinion page so they were hardly “liberal” media, whatever that means). But like them or not, the Smalls were boosters for their city, and that’s part of what I want in a daily paper.

    So yeah, I care and I would much prefer it if one of Chicago’s wealthy families steps up and tries to create something from the wreckage that is the Tribune. Anybody from out of town is simply going to focus on the bottom line, and that won’t serve anyone well.


  21. - amalia - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 4:39 pm:

    really need to have two papers that care about local news. fear that will not happen without out of town owners. also fear some of the names mentioned to buy.


  22. - Liberty_First - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 5:00 pm:

    Ask the LA Times what they think about that issues. Hint: their subscriptions have been in free fall for many years.


  23. - Wensicia - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 5:35 pm:

    I don’t think where the new owners are from is as important as who they are, what they plan for the future of the paper.


  24. - Ray del Camino - Monday, Jan 7, 13 @ 8:27 pm:

    Funny that Crain’s mentions St. Louis, where Lee Enterprises has eviscerated the once-proud jewel of the Pulitzer crown, gutting coverage to pay bonuses to the bosses. The worst of vulture capitalism. Agree with Word, though, that Chicago Trib fans can’t do worse than Zell.


  25. - Anyone Remember? - Tuesday, Jan 8, 13 @ 9:20 am:

    Ray del Camino

    Yes, Lee enterprises has savaged the staff at the St Louis Post Dispatch. But the staff’s financial difficulties haven’t bled into the news stories about government pensions, unlike the Tribune.


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