Jun 13, 2011

From hell

James O'Shea, who was fired in January 2008 as editor of the Los Angeles Times, has a new book out later this month called "The Deal From Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers." A companion website is coming soon.

The book is a retelling of the history that led to a disastrous merger between the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times and the layoffs and bankruptcy that followed. I have a copy on my desk - it was delivered late Friday - but I haven't read it yet. The chapter titles give one a good sense of what's inside, as "Otis Chandler's Legacy" gets tarnished by "Market-Driven Journalism" and the inevitable march to "Zell Hell" begins.

"It would be easy to condemn the people who caused this modern tragedy as venal and evil," O'Shea writes in the preface. "Thousands of friends and colleagues the world over have lost jobs because of the way the industry has been managed. Some were venal, all right. But most of the people who led newspapers to this point in history were smart and thoughtful. They thought they were doing the right thing, and that's what makes the story of what happened so terrifying. It shows disaster could happen to anyone in any industry."

The book will be out June 28.

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