Posted by: mbtrotter | October 5, 2010

So that’s what a media merger’s like.

The current economic state of mass media is bad. It’s a wonder how many people are surprised by that, considering all the mergers going on since the 1980s.

If you take a look at Poynter’s 200 moments that changed journalism in the last decade, you’ll see a lot of business moves have happened. In the first few years, print outlets were making a lot of moves: the Tribune Company bought the Times Mirror Company, Knight Ridder and Tribune bought CareerBuilder, and The New York Times bought

Most people know the landscape now. The biggest, wealthiest (or credit-worthiest) corporations buy up media outlets that could have some utility or are viewed as bothersome competition. Smaller media outlets, if not bought out, limp on toward inevitable death.

But do any of us know what a media merger is really like? The Sept. 26 premiere of HBO’s Bored To Death shows us mergers are about belt tightening to protect the bottom line and the purchased company realizing it may have to realign itself with the parent company’s values.

A standing table at the Four Seasons, sure, that’s a little much when the economy and, therefore, revenue has taken a hit. Edition magazine’s new parent company is right in deciding George Christopher doesn’t practice that kind of journalism anymore. But cutting out the Orangina? It can be found on Amazon for around $2 a bottle. Now that’s watching out for the bottom line, perhaps to the chagrin of your new employees.

The bigger struggle for Edition is fitting in with the new owners’ values. In the episode, George receives a roll of the eyes from the new owners’ representative when he describes himself as an old-fashioned liberal: “fiscally responsible, yet sexually out of control.” Then, of course, there’s the matter of an employee in S&M gear interrupting the Lord’s Prayer. You can only imagine the buyer’s remorse being felt at that moment.

While it’s all funny in a TV show, there are similar consequences for real-life media companies acquired in mergers. The difference is watching out for the bottom line in reality means cutting out more than expensive restaurant reservations and European soft drinks, and realigning to match a parent company’s values isn’t as simple as hiding an odd freelancer.

All video in this post is the copyrighted material of Home Box Office Entertainment and is intended for not-for-profit use only.



  1. I have not seen this show so I can’t really make a comment. Once I watch the clip I will understand the post. The computer I am at today does not have sound.

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