Friday, May 1, 2009

'Chicago Trib,' 'LAT': Editorial Clashes With Biz Side

When Sam Zell led a buyout of the Tribune Co. in April 2007, he promised that management would respect the integrity of the editorial operations, but newsroom staffers evinced skepticism. Two years, hundreds of layoffs, and one bankruptcy later, newsrooms at the company's biggest papers are in a state of ferment about breaches of the boundary between editorial and advertising operations.
Indeed, as Zell and his minions look increasingly like an unwanted foreign regime, a bona fide newsroom uprising may be in the offing.

In the latest controversy, 55 reporters and editors at the flagship Chicago Tribune signed an email to editor Gerould Kern and managing editor Jane Hirt accusing the paper's marketing department of surveying subscribers about unfinished stories to gauge their reaction -- laying the groundwork for deciding which articles get published based on market sentiment.

According to the Associate Press, which first reported the email, the editorial staffers still don't know whether articles were changed or canceled because of responses to these surveys.

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