Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Fishwrapper Is Kinda Stinky

Tribune Co., which has done a great job of proving that it really is possible to make the LATimes worse than it had become under its previous owners, is at risk of becoming the wallflower of Wall Street: All dressed up, but no one wants to dance.

LAT itself reports:
The 4-month-old auction of Tribune Co. appeared to be limping toward today's bidding deadline with several potential buyers on the sidelines and the California family [the Chandlers, who own 20% and are the single largest shareholders] that promoted a sale or breakup unsure whether to respond with an offer. ...

Several media outlets reported Tuesday that the outlook for a Tribune sale appeared to be dimming. CNBC said that a private equity consortium of Madison Dearborn Partners, Apollo Management and Providence Equity Partners had decided not to submit a bid. Bloomberg News reported that Apolllo had dropped out.

Four other private investment firms that expressed initial interest in the company — Carlyle Group, Bain Capital Management, Texas Pacific Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners — have shown no signs of going forward with an offer. The nation's largest newspaper company, Gannett Inc., also reportedly dropped out.
Who's to blame them? The folks in Chicago have savaged their asset, pumping up furor and controversy, driving out some good editors and writers, and dragging down even further the quality of a product that long ago lost its battle to be nationally relevant and top-notch.

And that's just the inside mess. Outside, people are switching to broadcast news, news radio, blogs and just flat being ignorant as superior options to handling inky newsprint. A left-wing editorial line, poor news judgment and a wealth of alternatives have made the Trib's LAT a newsprint poster for what's wrong with newspapers today.

Two LA billionaires, Eli Broad and Ron Burkle, are still reportedly interested in the entire Trib property. Why, I don't know. And the "G" in Dreamworks SKG, David Geffen, is very interested in breaking up the company by purchasing just the LAT. That makes at least some sense.

But really, compared to iPod, YouTube, Wii and Web-reading PDAs, the Trib just doesn't have anything particularly glitzy to sell.

Related Tags: , , , , ,