James O'Shea, the former Los Angeles Times, Red Eye and Tribune exec, takes on new Tribune owner Sam Zell and concedes a few points along the way in an essay for the Nieman Watchdog.
O'Shea generally ascribes the decline of newspapers to the arrival of corporate pressure on profits and stock prices, but he isn't beyond blaming his colleagues for failing to thoroughly understand their disconnection with the audience.
Mainly he considers the fundamental problem to be a lack of trust. He also thinks that, at some point, journalism is going to have to find a way to get people to pay for what it produces.
"To thrive and prosper, newspapers have to figure out how to deliver journalism that makes the public believe we once again are a public trust, something of value and something they won’t hesitate to pay for. Instead many papers today are trying to give readers entertainment, without the drama and without the laughs."