Freidheim had been given the unenviable job of cleaning up the mess left after Conrad Black and his lieutenant, David Radler, diverted millions of dollars' in company revenue into their own pockets. Sun-Times' fortunes were also damaged by an embarassing and costly circulation-overstatement scandal that occurred when Radler was publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Black and Radler were eventually covicted on criminal fraud charges and jailed, but the financial fallout from their actions has been an additional burden as Sun-Times Media fought to stay viable in a newspaper industry that has seen its century-old financial model upended.
Full disclosure: I worked for these folks, and continue to work for the company now mercifully free of them on a freelance basis, just in case anybody was unclear where my burning rage at newspaper mismanagement that then calls itself a "revenue decline" or blames "changing tastes of readers" comes from. Who needs the Internet to kill journalism when you have clowns like this walking away virtually unscathed?
Black, a member of the British House of Lords who on Tuesday checked a year off his 6-1/2 year sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice, said he's made his time in prison not only bearable, but intellectually stimulating by teaching other inmates, writing books and articles, reading and learning to play the piano.
In an e-mail interview with the Toronto-based National Post newspaper, Black said from the federal prison in Coleman, Fla. that there was no violence and "everyone tries to make conditions for everyone as decent as possible."
"It is not difficult to find interesting people to talk to and I have time to read and write," he said.
Let's have a "Chicago Journalism Town Hall" panel to talk about how Google is stealing from us! Fuck iPhones! You suck, college kids! Nobody wants to pay for quality journalism anymore! I don't see any bloggers at the local zoning board meetings! The Internet is a cesspool of opinion and false information! I hate pixels! *fap fap fap* Craig Newmark ruined our lives!
It is unconscionable to have the discussion we are having when what is happening is happening. It is irresponsible. It is MAD. It is a failure of leadership on every level from people who claim they love newspapers but don't know a damn thing about them, and they can yell all they want about the changes in the market. Increasingly and to my immense satisfaction people are no longer buying their bullshit. The evidence of criminal neglect and dereliction of even a semblance of duty is finally stinking up the doorstep of society enough that ordinary people can't ignore the smell.
Present consumers with this rotting corpse and say it's our fault it's dead. Please. You killed it, assholes, and you did it over and over, for years. You did it on purpose and you did it despite advice from everyone you knew, and you did it with a smug smile on your rich face, and you ruined the lives of people who got up every day and went to work in spite of your idiocy because they cared about the world around them and wanted to make it better. You did it. So don't come to us now and try to pretend we didn't want to save it. Every time we revived it you were right there with the axe.
And as for Black and Radler: Saturday morning morgue duty is too good for you. Sunday night cutline writing's too good for you. Sweeping the goddamn newsroom floor after everybody's left on election night is too good for you. I don't know what you deserve but I hope so very much that one day you get it good and hard.