This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.
One of America's largest media companies
has sought protection from its creditors in bankruptcy court. The Tribune Company
owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and other
newspapers. It also owns twenty-three television stations and the Chicago Cubs baseball
Sam Zell, one of the nation's biggest
property owners, took control a year ago. He led a stock buyout for eight
billion dollars. He borrowed almost all of it.
Many buyouts in recent
years were heavily financed with debt. But Tribune was struggling with thirteen
billion dollars of debt in a recession. It lost more than one hundred twenty
million dollars between July and September.
sought protection Monday under Chapter Eleven of the bankruptcy laws. Chapter Eleven
lets a business continue to operate while it seeks to restructure its debt.
Zell blamed what he called a "perfect storm" of economic conditions
including a credit crisis. But critics say he simply borrowed too much.
is the country's first major newspaper group to declare bankruptcy since the
rise of the Internet in the middle of the nineteen nineties. Profits have been
shrinking as newspapers lose readers and advertisers to competition from new
media. The Christian Science Monitor, for example, plans to publish only online
have, in fact, been losing readers since the eighties. But things are a lot
worse now. Circulation in the six months ending in September was down almost
five percent from the year before. Some papers fell more than ten percent. The two
largest newspapers, however, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, reported
The New York Times is third; it was
down about four percent. But Executive Editor Bill Keller says the Times is
still profitable and had a billion page views on its Web site in October.
"Good journalism does not come cheap," he says.
"And, therefore, you're not going to find a lot of blogs or nonprofit Web
sites that are going to build a Baghdad bureau."
spoke recently on National Public Radio. NPR says it just had a year of
near-record audience levels on the radio and online, as other journalism
investments decreased. But over the next year, the nonprofit network predicts a
big deficit because of less giving by companies in the downturn. So this week
it cut seven percent of its jobs and canceled two programs.
And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report,
written by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.