New Tribune Media Owner Has No Web Sense

Sam Zell

The group that owns many media properties been sold to billionaire Sam Zell. The Tribune Company controls 16 newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun, in addition to 26 radio and television stations and other businesses. With past success in real estate, rail cars and container leasing, Mr. Zell has no business experience with the web or search engines.

A quote from Mr. Zell:

“If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content, how profitable would Google be? Not very.”


According to the Google Zeitgeist people are not searching for mainstream news. Google and the other search engine’s success in fact has nothing to do with newspapers, and in the near future it could very well be the reverse: newspaper readership has been actively declining and Google searches have been surging.

Imagine a scenerio where Tribune found itself completely dependent on google for their readership, just like many other businesses today. Yes, google is a dominating force that. Most web bloggers understand this.

It could happen, although not all journalists agree.

One does not become a billionaire by being ineffective and obtuse. What Mr. Zell did is ignite a media frenzy around his new company and has people talking about, and linking to his websites. This is awesome linkbait, and bloggers (myself included) fell for it hard.

If this is just linkbait, my hat is off to you Mr. Zell, for you will do well online as a master at generating controversy.


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5 Responses

  1. Such a great text! No idea how you were able to write this’d take me long hours. Well worth it though, I’d assume. Have you considered selling advertising space on your blog?

  2. Google is getting much better at local news and listing local businesses. If you do a local search for a local florist for example, you get a map of the area and 3 businesses listed on the map. There is also the option to refine your search to the specific area only.

    Google is doing local well, and absolutely beats the newspaper classified ads. For local news, yes local writers will need to create this content, however many journalists are freelance and also blog. Many people only get their news online, and most of those users first use a search engine to find news and a news outlet second.

  3. Local newspapers have zero risk of being completely dependent on Google for providing traffic as long as they maintain the strength of their local brand.

    It’s actually the reverse. When it comes to local, Google depends on newspapers for traffic. It depends on newspapers letting Google index their sites to supply the search engine and news site with content.

    If someone hears about something going on in their community and then Googles it, it works for Google when that person finds an answer. Most of the time that answer really comes from the newspaper.

    If the reader didn’t find the answer on Google, where would he or she look next? Probably the newspaper.

    And that’s what’s really at stake here. Who are you going to look to first for local information? Google or the newspaper? The answer to that question is at least part of what determines whether newspapers survive.

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