Monday, April 14, 2008

LA Times For Sale?

Source: Geffen and Zell talking about LAT

Just passing along what I was told this morning from a possibly good source — no confirmation, no independent reporting, no warranty implied.

But my contact travels in the right circles to have picked up the scent and reports hearing from "three excellent sources (all with first hand information)" that David Geffen is in talks with Sam Zell to buy the Los Angeles Times from Tribune.

The talks are serious enough, my source hears, that the moguls may have been close to a deal last week. For what it's worth.

Nikke Finke at Deadline Hollywood has a source that says Geffen and Zell are “in serious discussions” regarding a sale of the Los Angeles Times. “It's all very hush-hush,” Finke writes on her blog, “but my source tells me: ‘Cash flow is not being met for the bankers, revenue is in free fall, and the potential liability on the Combs story is huge. Sam feels he bought a bill of goods. Geffen is back in the mix and he's going to get it for a deep discount. They're in serious discussions.’ ”

Zell: 'All of you are overhead'

NPR media reporter David Folkenflik got hold of an audio tape of Sam Zell's morale-sapping remarks at the L.A. Times and Tribune Washington bureau in February. That's the visit where he delivered a psychic bloodbath, saying they were overstaffed in D.C. and should be working in Orange County instead.

Those remarks solidified his reputation as bad news for the journalists he employs. "[It] may help explain why many of them are deeply skeptical of him," Folkenflik says. It also led some of the staffers, perhaps many, to send out resumes hoping to land at a place where the boss actually values the product.

Compare to Rupert Murdoch's first visit to the Wall Street Journal's Washington bureau, a couple of weeks later:

Murdoch told staffers that he would put more resources into Washington coverage and take on the New York Times. "It was a great meeting," the paper's Washington editor told Politico's Michael Calderone. "Everyone left feeling happy."

Sam Zell archive

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