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January 08, 2009

Speculation: New York Times May File for Bankruptcy by... May?!?

It's more than just idle speculation. The Times is sitting on a lot of debt that comes due in that time-frame, and they have no obvious way to pay it off.

They can't just keep selling their few profitable assets forever.

Earnings reports released by the New York Times Company in October indicate that drastic measures will have to be taken over the next five months or the paper will default on some $400 million in debt. With more than $1 billion in debt already on the books, only $46 million in cash reserves as of October, and no clear way to tap into the capital markets (the company’s debt was recently reduced to junk status), the paper’s future doesn’t look good.

“As part of our analysis of our uses of cash, we are evaluating future financing arrangements,” the Times Company announced blandly in October, referring to the crunch it will face in May. “Based on the conversations we have had with lenders, we expect that we will be able to manage our debt and credit obligations as they mature.” This prompted Henry Blodget, whose Web site, Silicon Alley Insider, has offered the smartest ongoing analysis of the company’s travails, to write: “‘We expect that we will be able to manage’? Translation: There’s a possibility that we won’t be able to manage.

Emphases added.

While Thomas Lipscomb (quoted at Newsbusters) may gloat about this, the fact is that we just may lose a critical newsgathering resource here, an important institution keeping check on the American government, with profound implications for our democra--

Aw, I can't even pretend. Gloat. Gloat like the wind.

Should Bloggers and Conservatives "Just Get Over" Media Bias? Reader JK wrote:

Re: your story on Palin's interview, you touched on something quite important and maybe vital. I think <> needs to suggest to the conservative new media that we collectively handle media bashing as you suggest - not let them off the hook exactly, but deal with it and move on.

I suspect that media bashing happens because of both frustration and the sheer impotence of seeing injustice scrawled in the headlines. I also suspect it (a left of left of center media) won't change until all liberal baby boomer editors / producers who feel entitled to change the world are dead or dying. To constantly berate them for acting in their own perceived best interest is both futile and a little ridiculous. So the clarion call would be nice.

I wrote back:

I actually think about what you say from time to time. It does seem absurd to constantly bash the media. It is as pointless as arguing with glaciers.

But as futile as it is, it is simply too big a part of blogging/alt media to ever give up. . The media is, for better or worse (worse mostly), our principal vehicle for fact. Everyone relies up on it, even conservatives. It is too important to make sure they're not lying and to point out when they are to "just deal with it and move on."

There is also a catharsis aspect here. The media pisses people off, including myself. Part of the appeal of blogs and blog-commenting is the shout-at-the-tv aspect, that is, when you're tired of shouting at the tv and want to say it "to the world," as it were. That may be kind of an illusion itself, but is, for me and a lot of people, an appealing illusion.

I have to admit there is a certain cringe factor in me, just out of the sheer numbing repetitiveness of it, when I write my sixty three billionth post on media bias. A lot of readers are probably less than thrilled to see a not-so-fresh addition to the ever-growing oevure.

I mean, I don't even really mention Guess That Party stories that often. There are too many of them. I mention one here and there. But for every one I mention, there are three I don't bother noting because, hell, what is the point?

I'm not sure it would be a good thing to abandon, or even significantly scale back on, bashing the media for bias. The criminal justice system is basically just an unending processing of the same hoods to the same prisons, but we don't say we ought to just stop that because it is, ultimately, a futile effort. Some things you just have to do because of, well, truth and justice and the American way and all that.

More: In a follow-up, JK expresses, I think, the idea that unending media criticism limits the seriousness of bloggers and alt-media writers. Well, that's true, but it is, at least in my case, a point that speaks to an overdetermined situation anyway -- I'll never be taken seriously. And for good reason. Apart from the law, in which my skills long ago lapsed, I am an expert in nothing at all; while other bloggers are experts in one or two fields, most are experts in none.

Media criticism isn't a very prestigious thing because the entrance requirements are so low. And it's those forgiving entrance requirements that make it an appealing pursuit to morons like myself.

That gets, though, at my botherment at Sarah Palin's interview. The media, when they presumptuously act as political players, are anklebiters. I think Palin has to deal with the ankelbiters as briefly as necessary to make her point and move on to her real opponents: Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and, perhaps one day, Putin and Ahmadinejad and bin Ladin. The anklebiters should be left to the ankelbiters of the anklebiters, that is, bloggers and media critics. Otherwise it diminishes her, as she spends precious time dealing with hacks and no-account no-name no-talent partisans in the press, when she should (eventually, at least) be dealing with people who simply matter more than Katie F'n' Couric.

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posted by Ace at 11:42 AM

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