50-50 edit to ads is crazy



In an effort to bail his sinking ship, Samuel Zell, new owner of the Tribune Company, has decided that all Tribune Company newspapers must aim for a 50-50 split between editorial and advertising (notwithstanding classifieds and supplements.) Are you kiddng me? 
A real estate guy, Mr. Zell may understand this loose analogy: It’s like dictating that all buildings rented must be 50% business and 50% residential.  It’s crazy and arbitrary. His decision is not based on newspaper reality, it’s based on money. 
Mr. Zell’s idea will kill his papers. (I hope Charles and Jim Dolan aren’t listening.)
Two points for Mr. Zell: This decision is being made during an economic down turn while ad revenue is eroding; so he will erode editorial strength as a tactic not a strategy. Secondly, as the economy softens, people are going to read more newspapers. Newspapers are one of the world’s most amazing values. As people conserve, they become more thoughtful and analytical. Reading a newspaper from cover to cover is an inexpensive way to get smarter, kill a couple of hours, and not spend money.  My head hurts.