July 3 – July 10, 2008 Edition

Tribune Page
Cuts May Limit
Book Coverage

NEW YORK, NY/6/30/08–The Tribune Company, acquired in December 2007 by billionaire Sam Zell, is apparently planning to slash overall page counts across the newspaper chain as part of a sweeping redesign of its newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times. The move leads some to speculate that book review sections will be among the first to be trimmed when the new design is unveiled in September.


The Tribune is grappling with a $12.8 billion debt at a time when the newspaper industry is shrinking. Analysts say the company is at risk of credit default in the next year or so. That has forced the company to consider the sale of one of its most profitable newspapers, Newsday.


The Wall Street Journal last week reported that Sam Zell will try to sell the buildings occupied by the Tribune and Times to generate cash more cash for the company. Newsroom staff cuts have already been made at The Hartford Courant and the Baltimore Sun. Zell reportedly made the remark while touring his new companies in April that "some reporting jobs aren't needed," which was picked up in The New York Times.


A number of newspapers across the country have downsized their book sections since 2001, including The San Francisco Chronicle downsized its book section; both The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Dallas Morning News. Both the Tribune and the LA Times merged their once-standalone book sections into weekend editions.


Zell has not confirmed whether book reviews will be part of the cuts at The Tribune Company. But as rumors say, without advertising support, newspapers have no other choice but to cut pages. Analysts say The Tribune, now a private company, probably needs to sell both the Chicago Cubs baseball team and another major asset like Newsday soon to remain solvent.


While book review space continues to decline in print media, the bright side of the story is that more and more space is being devoted to online reviews. NPR (Authorlink July 3, 2008) has expanded its book reviews and book coverage, as has Authorlink Book Reviews, which now has more than 1100 libraries and other publishing professionals as registered readers of its reviews.