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Zell’s Tribune purchase foreshadows return to power of news consumers over journalists 4/3/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Competition, Journalism, Money.

In the early 20th century, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst engaged in an epic “Yellow Journalism” battle between their New York papers, using sensationalism to lure readers in what many now consider to be a “race to the bottom.” Since then, for a variety of reasons, newspapers have felt less need to compete aggressively for readership. Among these reasons is that newspaper-owning families whose trade was journalism, like the Sulzbergers at the NY Times and the Grahams at the Washington Post, cleverly insulated themselves from profit pressures from shareholders by giving themselves voting shares disproportionate to their investment, purportedly in the cause of “journalistic independence.” The acquisition of the Tribune company by business investor Sam Zell represents a clear break from the family-controlled tradition of two large papers, and there is no reason to believe at this point that profits won’t come first. Good profits require happy customers more than they require happy journalists or family members. For better or worse, we are returning to an era when papers will provide “all the news that fits consumer tastes.”


1. In Search Of » Blog Archive » By Popular Demand - 4/6/07

[…] scary enough scenario. Then Steve Boriss concludes in his post on Zell’s Tribune purchase that “there is no reason to believe at this point that profits won’t come first. Good […]

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