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Debt-Laden Tribune Co. Files For Bankruptcy

The Chicago-based Tribune Co., one of the nation's most prominent newspaper publishers, filed for bankruptcy today. The company owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun, plus five other daily papers, 23 television stations and the Chicago Cubs.

Tribune was already struggling when real estate magnate Sam Zell took it over a year ago. And it's not alone in that regard. The E.W. Scripps Co. is seeking suitors for the Rocky Mountain News, the second-largest paper in Denver. McClatchy is reportedly intending to try to sell the Miami Herald. And the New York Times Co. has announced it intends to borrow $225 million against the value of its new headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

Zell's highly leveraged takeover of Tribune left the company $13 billion in debt, and it had little room to maneuver as the economy collapsed. Tribune made deep cuts and sold the large daily Newsday, but a projected sale of the Cubs has been delayed by the credit crunch affecting the financial markets.

In an e-mail to employees on Monday, Zell said the newspapers will continue publishing and that there are no new rounds of layoffs planned.

The bankruptcy could give the company breathing space to negotiate more favorable terms with lenders. According to its bankruptcy filings, Tribune has more than enough money to make a $70 million payment due Monday. But the company appears to be in danger of falling afoul of some of the financial requirements set out in its borrowing agreements. And there are far larger bills looming ahead.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.
Robert Siegel
Prior to his retirement, Robert Siegel was the senior host of NPR's award-winning evening newsmagazine All Things Considered. With 40 years of experience working in radio news, Siegel hosted the country's most-listened-to, afternoon-drive-time news radio program and reported on stories and happenings all over the globe, and reported from a variety of locations across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. He signed off in his final broadcast of All Things Considered on January 5, 2018.
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