Chicago Tribune staffers react to news that Rupert Murdoch might buy their paper

Rupert Murdoch as Tribune boss?

Pulitzer-winning Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich says: “My first response was simply, ‘Hey, at least he’s a newspaper guy.’ He has a good eye for what works for different markets. I like his version of the Wall Street Journal. Things could be way worse than Rupert Murdoch, at least theoretically.”

A writer who didn’t want to be named tells Michael Miner: “[Murdoch’s] certainly capable of owning and running an upmarket paper — the Sunday Times and Wall Street Journal to wit — and with the addition of columnist Jenny McCarthy to complete the Splash-eriffic degradation of the Sun-Times I don’t think a canny businessman would try to compete in the downmarket newspaper race in Chicago. So I’m not filled with despair.”

I suspect Murdoch doesn’t seem so bad to Tribune Co. journalists after working for Sam Zell, who a few years ago said FU to an Orlando Sentinel photograper who asked about his journalism philosophy and mentioned reader interest in puppy stories.

Zell’s response:

You’re giving me the classic what I call journalistic arrogance of deciding that puppies don’t count. I don’t know anything about puppies. What I’m interested in is how can we generate additional interest in our product and additional revenue so we can make our product better and better, and hopefully we get to the point where our revenue is so significant that we can do puppies and Iraq.

Here’s the video of Zell’s 2008 exchange with the reporter, and here’s the Sentinel ombudsman account of it.)

By the way, Zell’s F-bomb target — Sara Fajardo — identifies herself on Twitter as a “Tribune Refugee now working as info. officer for humanitarian aid agency.” I’m told that she’s with Catholic Relief Services in Kenya.

* Murdoch or Jenny McCarthy: Who’s the greater menace to the dignity of Chicago journalism? (chicagoreader.com)
* Chicago Tribune, LAT veterans fear possible Murdoch takeover (mediamatters.org)
* Jack Shafer: What happens to Tribune after bankruptcy? (reuters.com)

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