Blame the Business Model

Via Romanesko, an item from the Orlando Weekly that identifies the Tribune Company’s business methodologies — slash staff, boost margins and dumb down the paper with flashy graphics and “truncated” articles — as the reason for the Orlando Sentinel’s declines.

When will people realize that this type of commercial model is poison for democracy?

The only solution is to disengage journalism from the for-profit model and treat it like a social venture first and foremost.

Read on:

“The Incredible Shrinking Newspaper”
Orlando Weekly, August 7, 2008

What’s sadly ironic is that the Sentinel is probably still very profitable. Were it not part of a national chain it would likely be doing just fine, thank you very much. Prior to Sam Zell’s highly leveraged purchase of the Sentinel’s parent company, the Tribune Co., in December, the Sentinel was rumored to have the highest profit margin of any paper in the chain (though Tribune never publicly broke down the figures for its smaller properties, including the Sentinel). But the Sentinel has risen and fallen with Tribune since the company purchased it in 1965. As goes Tribune, so goes the Sentinel. These days, Tribune is being crushed under the weight of the debt Zell took on to buy it, and the Chicago businessman is trying everything he can think of to get out from under it, from selling off valuable properties like Long Island’s Newsday and the Chicago Cubs to slashing jobs and printing fewer pages in his newspapers.

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