Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim apparently plans to loan the New York Times $250 million to prop up the dying company.
Slim might as well use that money to light his cigars.
When are these old billionaires going to learn that more of the same isn’t going to save the newspaper industry? Sam Zell, the horrible little man who publicly cursed out one of his own employees with a variation of The Cheney, is a legend in his own mind and thought his brilliance would lift the Tribune Co. and all its papers out of the red.
The Tribune Co. declared bankruptcy last month. Zell’s dumb idea was to turn the LA Times and other papers into glorified community bulletin boards. He also apparently figured that destroying the morale of every single employee was also a winning strategy.
Zell thinks he’s a genius because he made money during the bubble like millions of other “geniuses,” but his plan was a bust.
In truth, newspapers as daily papers can’t be saved unless they come up with a drastically different revenue model. Laying off half the staff and covering the local Little League tournament isn’t going to save them as long as the revenue source remains subscriptions and (more importantly) classified advertising. The classifieds are useless in the age of Craig’s List and subscriptions are for suckers in the internet age.
So what’s the answer? There may be none, but we do know that people like Zell don’t have the answer, and it’s a pretty safe bet that Carlos Slim doesn’t have the answer either. Of course, Slim’s deal is just a short term scheme. Whether he makes money or not is immaterial. It’s the New York Times that is kidding itself if it thinks this latest deal is going to save it from failure.