Wednesday July 5, 2006

McClatchy in the house

Herald on cover of McClatchy magazineLet’s take a moment to acknowledge the passing of the reigns over at the Miami Herald last week. The sale from Knight-Ridder to McClatchy has now been executed, and we’re now officially in the hands of the new guys. This all happened very quietly in the newspaper, with just one little article suggesting plans for the web site, and a feel-good opinion post about how great everyone is, what an opportunity this presents, blah blah blah.

The mood inside the newsroom (yes, I know about these things) has been one of cautious optimism; nobody’s sure what McClatchy’s going to do, but they’re mostly glad to see Knight-Ridder gone. What with the, shall we say unsettled state of the newspaper industry, everybody knows that new thinking is required, and McClatchy is seen as maybe being capable of some new thinking. We can check out the sites of the Star Tribune and Modesto Bee to see what they like to do. The main thing to notice is how different the sites are, which lends credence to the “reflect regional design and flavor” line. Let’s hope they fix what’s broken (the archives, the search, browsing of past issues) and not what ain’t.

There were some murmurings about a possible piece in the Bee that was supposed to slam Knight-Ridder, but instead we got this ho-hum overview of the deal.

In one of my regular lashings of the Herald, I suggested that the newspaper (and maybe all newspapers) should be run as non-profit organizations (I’ve since learned that the St. Petersburg Times is run by a non-profit). Well, that’s obviously not going to happen now. Still, this is interesting: the Herald building is on the cover of the most recent McClatchy magazine. It turns out that the paper is now the biggest in the organization’s portfolio (total: 39 papers). Maybe being the flagship has its privileges. Maybe the Herald will be given some opportunities and resources to really stretch out and look at what a newspaper is in the internet age. Hopefully it’s more then just crappy little online videos and photo slideshows. One person I spoke to at the Herald used the phrase “manage the decline,” and I hope that isn’t true. We need information, and if the Herald can focus on the local, and look at ways to use the internet properly, there’s no reason for any decline except in paper pulp consumption.

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  1. Miami Harold    Wed Jul 5, 03:41 PM #  

    There’s an unsettling feeling of
    Meet the New Boss / Same as the Old Boss
    but it may prove unwarranted.
    Yes, McClatchey is a traditionalist company,
    low-key, middle of the road, cautious.
    They like smaller markets, which suggests (uncomfortably)
    their perspective on the Herald’s impact,
    both financially and culturally.
    On the positive side,
    don’t expect outright stupidity and arrogance,
    at least not the Knight-Riddance brand.
    All in all, with K-R out of the picture,
    the community has added by subtraction.
    It’s a good first step.

  2. Steve Klotz    Fri Jul 7, 09:16 AM #  

    Look, Alesh: this post inspired just one naked comment. Most people don’t give a damn about newspapers any more. They don’t buy ‘em, read ‘em, or rely on ‘em for their information or entertainment. Doesn’t make a difference to most people who owns or runs ‘em. Sadly, but truly, they’re heading toward irrelevancy.

    Compare this to the good old days.

  3. alesh    Fri Jul 7, 09:57 AM #  

    Speaking of irrelevancy: you can’t even read that article anymore unless you’re part of TimesSelect: ie you cough up some cash.

    I guess the NYTimes thought it was doing a little too good, had things figured out a little too well, and decided to shoot itself in the foot to level the field a little.

  4. mkh    Fri Jul 7, 11:26 AM #  

    That, Alesh, is one reason why I have concerns about newspapers. I understand that they need to find some way of making a profit, but asking you to pay (with either cash or personal information) to spread the word about a decent article is counter-productive.

  5. Steve Klotz    Fri Jul 7, 11:27 AM #  

    Yesssssssss…..I see the problem. Sorry about that. Lest there be a misunderstanding: I’m not paid by the NY Times to pimp its services. As a registered subscriber I can go right to these sites, not realizing there’s a roadblock. Mea culpa. And gezundheit.

  6. jps    Mon Jul 10, 02:16 PM #  

    many laws involving notification of potential creditors / claimants of an estate or during the “winding up” of a business affair involve having to publish in the local newspaper for several weeks post the insolvency/death, thus providing constructive notice and not allowing claimants to pop up 2 years later and drag everyone to court.

    problem: no one reads newspapers anymore.

    solution: (?)

    Ironically, the shareholder directed dissolution which you mentioned in the last post requires notice given to unknown creditors. Even if you posted such a notice in the Herald at it’s parent company’s dissolution, would anyone read it?

    maybe non-profit is a good idea.