Who Got Rich From Strangling Newspapers?

“Gannett is not the only big media enterprise where the consequences of bad decisions land on everyone except those who made them. The Tribune Company, a chain of newspapers and television stations run into the ground by Sam Zell after he bought it in 2007, is paying out tens of millions of dollars in bonuses as part of a deal in which it would exit bankruptcy. Over 4,000 people in the company lost their jobs, and the journalistic missions of formerly robust newspapers it operates — including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun — have been curtailed. And even though Randy Michaels and some of his corporate fraternity brothers who operated the company into bankruptcy are gone, more than 600 managers who were there while the company cratered remain. Not only do they have jobs while so many others were sent packing, but the remaining leadership will be eligible for a bonus pool from $26.4 million to $32.4 million under the current plan.”

This delicious David Carr column in the Times addresses the obvious: how can news organizations pay big executive compensation while trashing their payroll and their newspapers? Most of them plead the old “talent retention” line, which, sure: who the hell wants to retain talent like those jokers at Tribune and Gannett?