14 May 2009

David Geffen, Patron Saint of Journalism?

That headline is a stunner, huh? Thanks! I thought you'd like it.
But think of it. If David Geffen, the sort of Peter Pan (yes, with green tights) of Hollywood for the last ten years, has his way, he'll be the new owner of one of the most venerated names in journalism.
Geffen made an offer for the Los Angeles Times a couple of years back. It wasn't accepted. Newspapers weren't in the same position then as they are now, which if you need a mental picture is rather like a burly hiker who wandered out close to the cliff's edge, then found the ground underneath him is giving way. The hiker started to fall, grabbed at the crumbling cliff beneath him and for the past two years, he's lost inch after inch. There are no footholds, and yes, he's a LOT thinner than he used to be.
Being a professional journalist isn't what it used to be. In fact, it's downright tough at the moment. There isn't a bright future for television journalists, and the sky over our print brethrens' heads is absolutely midnight black.
Back to our story. Now Mr. Geffen is eyeing the New York Times. And he's looking at her with a very benevolent eye. Sources quoted at Newsweek.com:
"The New York Times is a very special institution," said one of the persons. "It's essential to be preserved. And David believes the correct model to preserve it is nonprofit."
Why not? 66 year old Geffen made his money in music and entertainment. He's estimated to be worth about $4.5Billion. He can afford to lose a few dollars. But then there's the stand of Warren Buffett who recently said, that newspapers "have the possibility of going to unending losses." And further, "We would not buy them at any price."
It is said that Mr. Geffen views the Great Grey Lady, as she is often called, as a national treasure and something that cannot be allowed to fade away into nothingness amidst ongoing financial losses.
I hate being grateful publicly, so maybe, if his purchase does go through, I can just allow a quiet sigh of relief on her behalf.

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