Sam Zell: The Tribune and Cubs merely assets?

“I don’t have any emotional attachment to assets.“–Sam Zell, owner of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Cubs in a CNBC interview about the paper’s and team’s future, as reported in the Tribune.

Maybe that’s why he’s worth–what?–billions, and why those of us who love the newspapers and baseball teams we grew up with aren’t worth billions. Here is a legitimate question: Should community institutions, such as the Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, be treated merely as assets, or does ownership–proprietorship, really–entail an obligation beyond

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Sam Zell

making money?

The press is the only (profession)(trade)(racket(take your pick) that has a constitutional protection, and that’s for a reason: Not to protect them as investments, but because of their critical role in a democracy. So, I suppose, that newspapers should be looked upon as something more than an “asset”–even if it’s in bankruptcy and the value of the “asset” is being set by a bankruptcy judge and the market.

Anyway, it’s an interesting question. Having once worked for Conrad Black–a truly loathsome person–I can testify first hand about the consequences of  viewing a community institution as just another “asset.”

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