Way back in 2008, I told City University of New York journalism prof and strident new media guru Jeff Jarvis that he was full of it for contending that a bunch of LA Times reporters were wrong to sue Sam Zell and others for their reckless takeover and management of the Tribune Company. Back then, Jarvis wrote:
The Times veterans should not be suing Zell. They should be suing themselves. Oh, I, too, am angry at the state of newspapers in America but I’m angry at the right people. The LA Times’ problems — like those of other papers — were caused by by decades of egotistical and willfully ignorant neglect by the owners, managers — and staff — at the paper.
Back then, in the comments section for his BuzzMachine blog, I told Jarvis:
I don’t think I have ever read a less germane comment on a lawsuit by anyone alleging to be any kind of journalist. If what is alleged in the lawsuit is true — that employee funds were misused in a flim-flam game that will make Sam Zell and former Tribune managers huge money while costing the employees most or all of the stock-option earnings they amassed over decades — the defendants have violated their fiduciary duties and some may even have criminal liability.
To conflate that specific allegation of egregious wrongdoing with some overarching general critique of how the newspaper business has been run in recent decades is — how can I put this gently? — shockingly misguided and legally illiterate.
Ordinarily, when I write so intemperately I regret it. Ordinarily, this blog post would be some form of apology, if not for substance then for style.
But I don’t regret any of what I said back then, because Jarvis truly didn’t know what he was talking about. Evidence to that effect: The lawsuit was just settled, with 13,000 current and former Tribune employees sharing in a $32 million payout (after it’s reduced by about $8 million in lawyer fees).
I’m not going to do some victory dance in the end zone here. I’ll just spike the ball, and trot on off to the bench. Smiling.