The fate of the Times’s local coverage ultimately may depend on something more immediate than the long-term industry trends described in the Pew report. Now that it has emerged from seemingly interminable bankruptcy proceedings, the Tribune Company has hired financial advisers to help it plan the sale of its newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. Rumored bidders for the Times have included a series of deep-pocketed people and entities, ranging from local investor-philanthropist Eli Broad to the industrialist Koch brothers. Asked what effect he thinks new owners might have on election coverage, Connell diplomatically said that all will be well, if the current newsroom leadership remains in place.

When I pushed for more detail, he laughed and gave a true line-editor response: “You know, I’m just trying to work the situation in front of me.”

It’s the same assignment everyone at the Times will face, if and when new owners emerge.

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John Mecklin is the California and Nevada correspondent for the United States Project, CJR's politics and policy desk. He is the deputy editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Follow him on Twitter @meckdevil.