Friday, December 19, 2008

Writing's on the wall for newspapers

"Will old media survive the 'perfect storm'?" wondered the Chicago Tribune, the day after its parent company filed for bankruptcy. "Tribune's collapse rings alarm bells for newspapers," rang out the headline in London's Evening Standard. For The Wall Street Journal -- which denies it has become more "tabloid-y" under Rupert Murdoch's ownership -- it was a moment to wallow in the "Media industry's trials and Tribune-ations."

The headlines were black. These are dark times for newspapers everywhere in the developed world, after all, as the slow ebb of circulation figures has been suddenly and shockingly compounded by a collapse in advertising revenue brought on by the recession. The spectacular bankruptcy of the Tribune group -- owner of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, two of the top 10 best-selling papers in the U.S. -- and the humbling of Sam Zell, the billionaire property tycoon whose ego is as famously large as he is famously short -- provided an irresistible hook for another traipse around these grim subjects.

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