Cut by a Fifth / Zell
This was originally written in 1999 as a joke among writers at the LA Times concerning the tireless economies of the copy desk. For them, writing was like lawn, best mown short. Since that time, in nine short years, the paper and its owner, the Tribune Company, have been bought and sold twice, each time to proprietors who applied the logic of the blade not just to words, but also to people. Most of the copy editors who inspired Cut by a Fifth have been sacked; so have the writers whose work was so routinely shorn. In the hands of its current proprietor, Sam Zell, the LA Times teeters between Chapter 11 and Chapter 7. As a result, in Mr. Zell’s honor, Cut By a Fifth was retitled.