In an Orlando Sentinel report published this morning, Howard Greenberg, the publisher of both that paper and the Sun-Sentinel, made an astonishing claim: That the bankruptcy and mounting corporate debt of the newspapers' parent, Tribune Co., are "totally independent of the health" of the Orlando Sentinel (and by extension, the Sun-Sentinel).
Here's what Greenberg said (after the publisher tells reporter Etan Horowitz that he wishes last year could be "obliterated from memory"):
"It's all about corporate debt, and it is totally independent of the health of the Orlando Sentinel. The Orlando Sentinel is still a healthy enterprise. Locally, it's a nonevent for readers and advertisers."
Anybody want some fries with that whopper? The corporate debt, of course, and the bankruptcy it precipitated is the primary factor behind all the job cuts at all Tribune newspapers that has significantly reduced news coverage for their readers. It is, of course, Tribune's $13 billion debt that is sinking the entire company -- and all of its media properties, including the LA Times and Chicago Tribune -- down a black hole.
In other dire journalism news, Hearst has put the Seattle Post-Intelligencer up for sale -- and says that if no buyer is found, it will cut the news staff to the bone, cut its print edition, and go to a strictly online product.
The difference between the Seattle paper and the Sun-Sentinel (and Miami Herald for that matter) is that our local newspapers are, as Greenberg says, still in the black.
The big picture: Tribune and McClatchy should sell our local newspapers before the corporate debt eats them whole. It's the right thing to do -- and probably ultimately the smartest move for the creditors.
ADDED: In other media news, Doug Franklin, the former Palm Beach Post editor who oversaw massive job cuts and the distribution deal with the Sun-Sentinel, has been named publisher of the Atlanta Journal-Consitution. Nothing personal to Franklin, but God help our brothers and sisters in Atlanta.