Sam Zell can go to ….

December 13th, 2008

Where the …. is the outrage at what Sam Zell has perpetrated in his financial manoeuvrings that have brought The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and 23 television stations into bankruptcy?

The aptly-named “Grave Dancer” has just dug a mass-grave for thousands of innocents who work these enterprises.

The New York Times first report labeled the debacle “The Newspaper Bubble, Too, Has Burst” as if this was just some sort of innocent homeowner who bought a cut-rate mortgage.

But finally a good reporter looked at things more closely. Andrew Ross Sorkin’s December 8th article in the same paper is called “Workers Pay for Debacle at Tribune.” It is a dispassionate and detailed look at the whole mess that billionaires are far too willing to engage in at the expense of the workers who make media properties valuable in the first place.

Shame on you, Mr. Zell! So you stand to lose $315 million. Boo hoo! As Sorkin’s article states pointedly: “It is unclear how much he’ll lose, but one thing is clear: When creditors get in line, he gets to stand ahead of the employees.”

Outrage is what is called for, not some neutral view that the newspaper industry is challenged. It would not be half as challenged if grave dancers of the sort Mr. Zell represents were not allowed to create such massive havoc.