Can Our Business Be Saved? Should I Take the Job?

08/26/2010 11:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I can confirm the press reports: I'm in talks to take over the Chicago Tribune. It's me, I understand, or Michael Eisner, who once was in the media business. (The media business may be interesting to nobody else, but once you're in it, you'll never get enough of it.) Discussions are ongoing. Tribune Co. creditors are, I admit, imploring me. JPMorgan Chase and the two hedge funds, Angelo Gordon & Co. and Oaktree Capital Management, who now control the company, can't stop calling me. My family is supportive of whatever decision I might make.

This is, however, not so much a business decision, but an existential one. Can anyone, anywhere, rescue our business? Can I?

Among my big dreams, one has always been to run a big city paper. But I have had to harden my heart.

There are no more dreamers, there are only bottom fishers.

Sam Zell, who bought the dying Tribune a few years ago in a great cloud of nostalgia and flim flam, was a bottom fisher. The current bond holders are even lower than Sam, which nobody ever thought was possible.

As it happens, Newser is based in Chicago, not just, I'd like to think, because Newser's CEO, Patrick Spain, lives in Evanston, but because Chicago was, once upon at time, the world's greatest newspaper city. But, of course, no longer. I have often left the Newser offices and looked up at the Tribune Tower (since sold) and thought, WTF? The Chicago Tribune, perhaps the most troubled newspaper in America, has also been, for many years, among the worst (and that's saying a lot).

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