Analysis & Comment

Opinion | Should We Worry As Billionaires Buy Up Newspapers?

LA Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong says we should — and he’s one of those billionaires.

Produced by ‘Sway’

Patrick Soon-Shiong has some things in common with Rupert Murdoch and Jeff Bezos. He has billions of dollars, and he owns a media outlet — or several of them. In 2018, Soon-Shiong — who minted his fortune by inventing a cancer drug in the 1990s — scooped up the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and a group of smaller newspapers for a cool $500 million. Since then, he’s been obsessed with two things: modernizing his media empire and continuing his medical pursuits, most recently with an experimental Covid-19 vaccine.

[You can listen to this episode of “Sway” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

In this conversation, Soon-Shiong and Kara Swisher discuss why he bought the L.A. Times, his plans for it and why he didn’t do more to save other local papers from the jaws of a newsroom-slashing hedge fund. They also delve into his medical background, his take on how the Covid-19 pandemic will become endemic in unvaccinated communities and the job he says he passed up in the Trump administration.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

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“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Matt Kwong, Daphne Chen and Caitlin O’Keefe, and edited by Nayeema Raza; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Sonia Herrera and Carole Sabouraud; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Liriel Higa.

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