Monday, August 31, 2009

Unfree Freedom

Of all the world of hurt in the newspaper business these days, I suppose the story that saddens me least is the collapse into bankruptcy of the grotesquely misnamed "Freedom" newspapers the franchise of the Hoiles family out of Irvine, CA, and for long a notorious pimple on the proboscis of journalism. To my mind, Hoiles mostly practiced the kind of libertarianism that meant freedom for me but not for you, gnarlier but not that dissimilar to the Pulliams of Arizona/Indiana--though to his credit, R. C. Hoiles did oppose the Japanese internment in World War II, when it must have taken not only principle, but courage.

I am, however, interested to learn that there is a nicer juicy bit of personal/family drama here. The New York Times reports:

Freedom’s bankruptcy will most likely wipe out the 45 percent equity stake held by two big private equity firms, the Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners. ...

The majority of Freedom is still owned by the Hoiles family... Freedom accepted the investments from Blackstone and Providence nearly six years ago to allow some Hoiles family members to sell their stakes in the company, ending strife within the clan.

So, the clear-eyed business heads get to hang onto the bankroll, while the sentimentalists who stuck to their guns will be eating dirt.

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