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The Deal from Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers

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  • Posted September 16, 2011

    Hard to put down.

    Newspapering is hard enough these days -- dwindling classified-ad revenue; pressure from owners, shareholders and creditors; and a readership base that's literally dying off, not to be replaced. That's what makes the story of what happened to the Chicago Tribune (and hundreds of its former reporters and editors) so tragic.

    Anyone who truly cares about the state of journalism today is likely to know about the Tribune Company's disastrous purchase of the Los Angeles Times Mirror Company several years ago, about real estate developer Sam Zell's acquisition of the whole ball of wax, about the disgraceful shenanigans of the Tribune Company's big-wigs, about the company's eventual declaration of bankruptcy. It adds up to the systematic dismantling of a once-great newspaper.

    James O'Shea is an insider, a high-level editor at both the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times - so there's no one better to give the gory details than he. And the details ARE gory. And I'm not sure I'm better for knowing the entire story. Still, The Deal from Hell was hard to put down.

    At first, I was a bit confused, however, about The Deal from Hell. Is it a story about the Tribune Company? Or is it a memoir of James O'Shea. Of course, the author's not a neutral observer (although Mr. O'Shea puts on his reporter panties and tries) and part of the reason the story is so interesting is that he isn't. So, I guess he can be forgiven for interjecting his own history and feelings.

    (Now, I'd really like a book by an LA Times insider to find out, among other things, what the newsroom there thought about Mr. O'Shea's tenure.)

    What this book makes crystal clear is the impact of the incredible loss of journalistic talent that ensues when a newspaper is forced to downsize. Hundreds of reporters are no longer able to ply their trade, at a time when we desperately need them to be the watchdogs of government and Wall Street. (Injecting one's feelings is hard to resist.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2011

    Hate it

    This book sucks

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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