Half of L.A. Times’ staff say they’d quit if Koch brothers take over

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A newspaper owner more polarizing than Rupert Murdoch or Sam Zell? Yes, we have a new front runner (and two of them, at that!): the Koch brothers.

Charles and David Koch are rumored to have an interest in buying all eight papers owned by Tribune Co., including The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, and Hartford Courant.

The Huffington Post reports
that at an L.A. Times awards ceremony the following exchange took place when columnist Steve Lopez addressed the staff:

“He said, ‘Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by Austin Beutner’s group.’ No one raised their hands.

‘Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by Rupert Murdoch.’ A few people raised their hands.

Facing the elephant trunk-on, ‘Raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by the Koch brothers.’ About half the staff raised their hands.”

L.A. Times employees aren’t alone in their resistance. A MoveOn.org online petition:

Stop the South Florida Sun-Sentinel from being sold to the Koch brothers

has just over 640 signatures and counting.

The source of all this angst? The L.A. Times editorial board leans left, while the brothers are staunch conservatives who have helped fund the campaigns of right-leaning politicians.

Regardless of an editorial page’s general bent, politics shouldn’t influence the direction of any paper’s newsroom staff, but by the show of
hands, the brothers should expect to be greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism.

L.A. Times column David Horsey seems to sum up the sentiment of many in his recent column, “Koch brothers want to make your newspaper their megaphone.”

The last time an outsider ran the Tribune Co. ended in disaster. In 2007, previous owner billionaire Sam Zell bought Tribune Co. In his short tenure, his
“accomplishments” leave many still shaking their heads. He changed the corporate culture and
alienated employees.
In less than a year, the company filed for bankruptcy, from which it emerged four years later in December 2012.

Times staffers hope its new owners, whoever they may be, will avoid similar mistakes. 

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