Joel Sappell Says Good-Bye in AJR Piece

Twenty-six year vet editor at LA Times, Joel Sappell took his buy out. His piece ran on AJR today:

Our optimism grew when Sam Zell, soon after his highly leveraged takeover of Tribune, promised investment, not retrenchment. But that didn’t happen. Although a gifted real estate man, he’d underestimated the severity of the newspaper crisis and ordered reductions.

He also quickly began to reveal himself as thin-skinned and crass, upbraiding Tribune journalists who challenged his vision. In a meeting with staffers in Florida, he punctuated his response to a female photographer’s question about the public service nature of journalism with a self-satisfied “fuck you.” When word of the incident spread through our newsroom, jaws dropped and hearts sank.

Then came Zell’s visit to Washington, where he gruffly informed reporters and editors that their operation was bloated, a drain on the company. Almost instantaneously, e-mails began flying into the home office with a blow-by-blow of Zell’s performance, correctly described in the blog L.A. Observed ( as a “psychic bloodbath.”

He also mentions he’s a daily reader of Romenesko. What he doesn’t mention is all the newspapers he reads…daily…religiously. And therein lies the problem…well that and Zell.