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October 2: Gelf's Varsity Letters »


September 26, 2008

Trials and Tribunations

Print media, much like the stock market, is suffering in part because of ill-informed speculation and your friends' goddamned negativity. All journalists need to do to save the industry is stand up and show some confidence. Confidence like the 115-page class-action lawsuit being filed by current and former LA Times writers against Tribune Co. czar Sam Zell, which cites, among other things, his systematic ruining of their lives and the lives of their children.

From the official release:

Since completing his takeover of the Tribune Company in December 2007, Sam Zell's illegal and irresponsible actions and public statements have damaged the reputation and business of the company he purports to want to preserve… through both the structure of his takeover and his subsequent conduct, Zell and his accessories have diminished the value of the employee-owned company to benefit himself and his fellow board members.
Sam Zell

Photo of Sam Zell courtesy of William Couch's Flickr stream.

The complaint goes on to drop some heavy language on Zell and Tribune, such as his "destructive management" and "self-dealings at the expense of employees," and calls for "the removal of Defendants from their fiduciary positions and removal of the Tribune Board in its entirety for their ongoing dereliction of duties." They also want to poke Zell in the eye, and burn down the internet, if such a thing is possible.

While newspapers in general have been taking an beating, Zell's crumbling empire seems to have earned the king's share of ire—including Gelf's.

And it's not just us being tough on the ol' coot. People legitimately hate him, what with him calling executives "motherfuckers" and muttering other unsavory tell-offs at inquiring journos. They channel their rage in their own forum of unemployment-inspired hate, tellzell.com. William Lobdell, the one-time LA Times wordsmith, has since abandoned print and taken to scarring young children on his own blog of Zell-vitriol.

Perhaps all this antipathy has something to do with the fact that Zell has sunk the Tribune's value by $3.8 billion in the six months since he took over. That's 20 million reasons to hate him a day.

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