Pearlstein: Tribune journalists should 'lob a stink bomb' into potential Koch bid

The Washington Post | LA Observed | NPR

Tribune Co. employees bruised by years of callous ownership have a "golden opportunity to turn the tables on their tormenters and exact some revenge," Steve Pearlstein writes.

At its heart, any news organization is only as good as the journalists who put it out. Without the journalism, there are no readers, and without the readers there are no advertisers and subscription fees. It all starts with the news and opinions and graphics and photographs that journalists produce. And if those journalists decide collectively to walk out the door one day, the readers and advertisers are almost certain to follow.

Collective action would "lob a stink bomb" into a Tribune sale, Pearlstein writes.

Pearlstein "obviously has never heard about Sunday ad inserts that, sad to say, are the main reason many people buy the paper," Mark Lacter says.

Of course, there's no telling what the Kochs might do or how other bidders might respond. ... What we do know is that the business case for the Kochs entering the newspaper business is darn near nonexistent and the political/ideological case is shaky at best.

Two people "with close ties to Tribune" confirm to NPR's David Folkenflik that the Kochs are interested in the papers. Reason Editor Matt Welch, a former Los Angeles Times employee, tells Folkenflik: "It would be such a culture clash, inevitably, between them and the newsroom there that it would be kind of open conflict for a long time. I would have a hard time imagining how they get out of that."

Several reporters, including David Sassoon of InsideClimate News, told Folkenflik a Koch-funded site (which used to advertise on Poynter) launched efforts to harass them. "really came after us in a way I've never experienced before," Sassoon says.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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