After four tumultuous years, it looks like the Tribune Company is finally out of the financial woods. The media conglomerate emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy today and is said to be a leaner, cleaner, more financially sound version of its former self, having shaken off around $12 billion of its nearly $13 billion total debt. Tribune currently owns 23 television stations, eight daily newspapers and a number of digital media outlets. But with a new board of directors made up mostly of Hollywood entertainment executives, Tribune will probably be looking to shed its newspaper holdings, which have been less than profitable as readership and ad revenue has slowed in major markets.
The Los Angeles Times has long been rumored to be up for sale; among the suitors expressing interest are Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corp., and the owners of the Orange County Register and the San Diego Union Tribune. And closer to home, venture capitalist Austin Beutner has hinted at forming an investment group to buy the paper. The Los Angeles Times has undergone several rounds of layoffs in the past few years.
Could a new owner turn things around? Will dismantling the behemoth Tribune company and returning hometown ownership to its struggling dailies improve their outlook? Does print media have a future?
David Folkenflik, NPR's media correspondent
Tim Rutten, columnist for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, formerly with the Los Angeles Times