The fate of the Los Angeles Times remains uncertain, but prospects are looking kind of glum right now.
The Los Angeles Times is by far the strongest news source and voice for the Los Angeles community, often setting the agenda for other news and internet media. However, Tribune Co. has put up the “For Sale” sign on its newspapers, prompting wealthy and politically involved entrepreneurs such as the Koch brothers to look into purchasing soap boxes for their political views.
Steve Lopez, one of the most prominent columnists at the Los Angeles Times, stood up during an in-house awards ceremony last week and asked, "Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by Austin Beutner's group." No one raised their hands.
"Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by Rupert Murdoch." A few hands were raised
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"Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by the Koch brothers." Around half the staff raised their hands, signaling an act of protest against the imminent Koch brothers’ investment.
Tribune would like to sell its eight newspapers in a bundle, which will include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, and Hartford Courant. Among the most interested buyers are the libertarian Koch brothers, Charles and David, who are looking to invest in media to espouse their conservative-leaning political beliefs, as they announced at summit a couple years ago.
Liberal-leaning Los Angeles is far from pleased with this news, as many of the LA Times reporters are threatening to leave before watching their newspaper turn into a Koch version of Fox News. The current owner of the Times, Sam Zell, is not exactly popular with the staff, but he does allow them a great degree of editorial freedom.
The staff would much rather see a coalition of LA billionaires take over the leadership, specifically Austin Beutner, a former Democratic mayoral candidate, and Eli Broad, a Democratic donor for political and philanthropic causes.
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Regardless, Los Angelinos should remain vigilant about the Los Angeles Times' ownership situation, as it is the flagship publication in the city and one of the nation’s most influential.