Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wanna Make A Lib's Head Explode? Tell 'Em That Rupert Murdoch May Soon Own The Left Angeles Times AND The Chicgao Truibune!

Yup, says so right here in black and white.
That the eeeeevvvvviiiiillllll Rupert Murdoch, proprietor of Fox News Channel, the Fox Broadcasting Network, and overall media baron is expressing some interest in buying the Left Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune as the Tribune Company comes out of bankruptcy either at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.
Of course barring the End on December 21, 2012 according to the Mayans.
Now there are a lot of barriers and the reality that this is all talk at this point.
But there is no question according to the article that Mr. Murdoch has long wanted to buy the Times. In the article, someone says that Mr. Murdoch on many trips to Los Angeles would have a copy of the Times and mark-it up with a Sharpie pen to show how it would look if he owned the newspaper.
One of the barriers is that Mr. Murdoch is not the only one that would like to explore buying the once venerable newspaper.
There is local Los Angeles businessman Austin Beutner who briefly considered running for mayor in 2013. People like Mr. Beutner seem to think that it is terrible the Times is not locally-owned as it was for most of its history.
The problem is that the local owners, the Chandler family, basically realized that they could could not adjust to the changing landscape and ended up selling their mini-empire to the Tribune Comp. And that has been the case for over 30 years. Long before the eeeeevvvvviiiiilllll internet and all that. And local ownership does not necessarily guarantee some better quality of writing, reporting, etc.
And there are two semi-local people that have expressed interest in buying at least the Times.
They are the new owners of the Orange County Register, Aaron Kushner and the new owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego real estate developer Doug Manchester.
And not much has changed so far at either newspaper.
The Register is still very libertarian-leaning and the Union-Tribune, or the U-T as it is being marketed is still center-right Republican.
The real problem is not who owns the Times but what they want to do with it.
The Tribune Company had no clue. The Chandlers did not and got out of the business.
The problem is that when it is the only game in town and does not feel obliged to report or care about anywhere but their base, then you end up with what we are seeing today.
Los Angeles is a huge city in size and demographics. And it is not all left-of-center. But the Times, they cater to the now left-wing city hall establishment and the tony, Westside Los Angeles libs. Oh, don't forget the entertainment industry. And that is the base and substance of the Times daily and or long term readership.
What the middle-class people in the San Fernando Valley? Or those on the Northeast part of Los Angeles that tend to be upper middle-class and, HORRORS!, Republican? How about the minority communities? And while we are at it, how about a better sports section? And it is not just coverage per se, but how they cover the diverse communities.
None of it beyond their base is ever covered positively. Not pro-whatever propaganda, but really when you read anything about the underbelly of Los Angeles, not much is positive. I suppose that a case maybe made that there is not much positive. But I submit that there has to be. It cannot all be bad.
Editorially, it is OK to be left-of-center. But please, be honest about it. Do not hide behind some phony "totally" objectivity. No one or company is. It is human nature.
Again, when the Times is the only newspaper left in town, it needs to appeal broadly.
While I was growing up, there was the Times and the rival, Hearst-owned Herald-Examiner. I was a Herald-Examiner reader. In fact, I was a paperboy for the Herald-Examiner. But the sad reality is that a crippling strike that lasted 10 years ended up eventually being the death-knell of the Herald-Examiner. On November 2, 1989, the Herald-Examiner published it's last edition. And yes, I do have one of those copies.
So, Since 1989, the Times has had no real competition. The only semi-competition is the San Fernando Valley based Los Angeles Daily News. But it really appeals to a regional reader rather than the city of Los Angeles as a whole.
And the Times has not only slimmed down over the years but decidedly made a hard-left turn and thus turned off a whole segment of readers.
Mr. Murdoch would appeal to those readers. Would he make the Times a tabloid? Why not? The highly regarded Times of London is a tabloid yet still maintains quality news coverage. Would the Times no longer be in the hip-pocket of city hall? Hard to say, but I do not think that is out of realm of possibility.
A newspaper like the Left Angeles Times need not just a face lift but a total overhaul. And why not Rupert Murdoch leading that overhaul?

No comments: