Register, Press Enterprise Sale: Out of the Tribune pot and into the Digital First fire

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Another dismal chapter in the tragic farce of Southern California newspaper journalism appears nearly over, as U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Mark Wallace Monday ruled that Freedom Communications—belly up for the second time in seven years—can sell the Orange County Register and Riverside Press Enterprise to Digital First Media. Tribune Publishing, which owns the Los Angeles Times and San Diego’s UT, was the high bidder in the auction for the two papers, but it ignored the Department of Justice’s warnings that its acquisition of the Freedom titles would create an illegal monopoly in violation of federal anti-trust laws. Last week, Federal District ...

Swimming with sharks: Breitbart in the tank for Trump

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Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I first met Donald Trump’s voters while the bully boy developer still was content to feed his grotesque ego on doses of reality television. Since then, of course, he has decided that failing as a casino operator is precisely the preparation you need to occupy the position we used to call leader of the free world. What we’ll call it if Trump actually gets the job is anybody’s guess—but, right now, Il Duce seems like a good bet. I began to discern the outlines of what’s come to be Trump’s base while writing a ...

Tribune’s Editor-Publisher Merger is its Worst Idea Yet

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In difficult times, it can be hard to distinguish innovation from desperation. These days of digital disruption are about as rugged a period as the American newspaper industry ever has experienced. It still ought to be clear, though, that Tribune Publishing’s decision last week to blend the jobs of editor and publisher at its newspapers—including the Los Angeles Times—falls into something worse than the desperate category. How much worse? The analytic philosopher Saul Kripke once declined to review a colleague’s paper for an important journal and, when asked why, is said to have replied, “It’s so far off the mark, it isn’t ...

Furor over NYT’s Trump tape is much ado about nothing

It’s absurd to single out any single event in this election cycle as odd, since the whole affair is so bizarrely weird that it feels like something you’d stumble into on the other side of the looking glass. So, for the sake of accuracy let’s just call the convoluted controversy over the tape of Donald Trump’s off-the-record conversation with the New York Times’ editorial board interesting. During this week’s Republican debate, you may have heard Trump refuse his opponents’ calls for him to release the recording. Here’s what’s at issue: Back in January, Trump went to The New York Times for one ...

Watching ‘Spotlight’, I was proud of my vocation and ashamed of my church

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Properly practiced, journalism is an honorable, but not a dignified vocation, and the cool, unsentimental way in which Spotlight captures that makes it one of best films ever made about newspaper work. The movie is up for six Academy Awards, and I hope it wins every one—though my friend Joe Morgenstern, the Wall Street Journal’s indispensable film critic, predicts it will get only one for best original screenplay, and he’s usually right about these things. If you’ve yet to see it—and you should see it—“Spotlight” recreates the investigation by the Boston Globe’s four-reporter team of that name that exposed not only widespread ...

Southern California’s Newspaper Readers Don’t Deserve More of Tribune’s Inept Management

For decades, the best newspaper in America on any given day was either the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal or the Los Angeles Times. Today, the LA Times not only has plummeted out of daily journalism’s top tier, but also become a ghostly poster child for everything that’s gone wrong with our newspapers since the advent of the digital age. Not long ago, the Times had a daily circulation of more than 1 million—virtually all of it to valuable home delivery subscribers—and a staff of more than 1,200 journalists. It maintained one of the world’s ...

The People v. O. J. Simpson: Recalling the Trial and Johnnie Cochran

I’ve always been fascinated by space exploration and, as a boy, watched all of the Mercury, Gemini and early Apollo manned launches on television. Nowadays, I take a keen interest in the Martian exploration directed from the nearby Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But in all the imaginative literature about man’s adventures into the cosmos, I don’t think there was anyone who foresaw what actually has occurred—that we would go to the moon, and then, just stop going. It’s been more than half a century since the crew of Apollo 17 set foot on the lunar surface and there currently are no ...