Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tribune Bondholders Fault Zell Takeover

Disgruntled Tribune Co. bondholders have asked a U.S. bankruptcy judge to let them investigate Sam Zell's 2007 buyout of the newspaper-and-television chain in an effort to derail a plan that would hand the company over to its banks.

The filing, made late Wednesday, calls the $8.2 billion transaction a "fraudulent conveyance" that left Tribune insolvent from the onset of the 2007 deal. It accuses senior lenders led by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. of completing a leveraged buyout they should have known would push the company into bankruptcy.

"Fraudulent conveyance" is a legal term most often used in bankruptcy court, in which creditors allege a company has used assets in a way unfair to creditors. In the context of leveraged buyouts, creditors can argue a deal loaded up a company with too much debt, leaving it undercapitalized and unable to meet future obligations. [Click for MORE]

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Miami Herald to Join with Weeklies,
Online Start-Ups in Hyper-Local Project

"What's missing from most of the national efforts, though, are the basic ingredients of hometown journalism: reporters, editors, reader contributions, local ads and information -- and this will be the focus of our project." [Click for MORE]
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Who Gets to Grow Up to Be Citizen Kane?

Simon Dumenco of AdAge writes:

I've been thinking about the life cycle of media moguls -- and the future of the very idea of the media mogul -- given all the recent rumors surrounding relative spring chicken Sam Zell, chief of the Tribune Co., the newspaper and broadcasting conglomerate. Just 67 and still invariably described as a "motorcycle-riding billionaire," Zell, having massively botched his attempt at media moguldom since taking control of Tribune in 2007, is said to be on his way out. Either forced out by creditors (if you believe the Chicago Sun-Times) or reduced to simply abandoning the wreckage of his failed investment (if you believe Murdoch's New York Post).

The big man walks away a small man -- diminished in the eyes of history. He could have shuffled off this mortal coil with his legend as a real-estate genius intact, but instead he'll mostly be remembered for helping to drive the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times and his other papers more quickly into the ground. Surely he'll be the last big man to try to become even bigger through media moguldom. [Click for MORE]

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Reader's Digest Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Reader's Digest Association Inc., publisher of the iconic general interest magazine that began gracing American homes in 1922, on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it faces falling print circulation in the Internet age and looming debt payments.

Known for its heartwarming stories about American life as other publications moved toward edgier fare, the company's flagship Reader's Digest magazine has seen its U.S. circulation drop from a peek of more than 17 million in the 1970s to just above 8 million last year.

Magnifying the publishing world's woes is an advertising slump that already has led to the closing of several high-profile magazines, including Conde Nast's Portfolio, Domino and Blender. [Click for MORE]

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Faked Photographs: Look, and Then Look Again

Life magazine removed a post from behind kneeling Mary Vecchio's head in John Filo's Pulitzer-winning Kent State photo.

What a marvel the first photographic images must have been to their early-19th-century viewers — the crisp, unassailable reality of scenes and events, unfiltered by an artist’s paintbrush or point of view.

And what an opportunity for manipulation. It didn’t take long for schemers to discover that with a little skill and imagination, photographic realism could be used to create manufactured realities. [Click for MORE]
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The New-Media Crisis of 1949

Milton Berle on NBC's "Texaco Star Theater"

The digital apocalypse continues to blight the lives of television producers, music-industry executives and newspaper publishers, all of whom are scrambling to figure out how to reconfigure their business models in such a way as to allow them to make an honest buck. They're trying to second-guess the ­future—so why not look back at the past? Today's new-media revolution, after all, is not the first time that technological change has laid waste to the best-laid plans of the old media. The same thing was happening 60 years ago. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content