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In the News Trib-ulations

December 8, 2008

“Even if you made barrels full of money one year, you've got to make more than that the next.”
John Carroll, former editor, L.A. Times, on the pressure to cut costs

While the newspaper business has been hurting for a long time, it had never had a bankruptcy -- at least not until this week, when the battered Tribune Company filed for Chapter 11. Billionaire investor Sam Zell, who bought the company less than a year ago, blamed its collapse on a "perfect storm" of disastrous financial developments, but there was little surprise in the media world, which had questioned the wisdom of the deal from the beginning.

In fact, the company Zell acquired was already in serious trouble. The story of how it got there is told in the accompanying excerpt from News War, a four-part FRONTLINE series broadcast last year. For a wider look at the huge problems facing the news business in general, visit the series Web site, where all four-plus hours are available for online viewing.

Finally, for a forceful take on who wins and who loses in the Tribune deal, here's what New York Times business reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin has to say about "all the people who mismanaged the company beforehand and helped orchestrate this ill-fated deal -- and made a lot of money in the process."

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