A friend of ours used to work for one of the newspapers in the McClatchy chain, knew a number of the executives, and about them he had a remarkable thing to report:
They weren't obsessed with the profit margin. They wanted profits, sure, but they were just about as concerned with putting out quality newspapers.
Shocking as this may be, this intelligence matches with the actual newspapers Sacramento-based McClatchy produces. The Tacoma News Tribune, its largest in the Northwest, is a quality paper, and the Tri-City Herald at Kennewick has shot up in quality since its takeover in 1979 from local owners as well. There's no lack of quality in its other properties, either: Those include the Sacramento Bee, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Anchorage Daily News. (It owns 11 papers in all.) In journalist circles, McClathy long has had the reputation of being a class act.
Will that reputation survive what is happening now - the most ambitious move in its history?
What is happening is its proposed takeover - evidently agreed to by both companies -of another newspaper company, Knight-Ridder. This is of particular note regionally because Knight Ridder owns outright three important regional newspapers: The Boise Idaho Statesman, the Bellingham, Washington, Herald and the Olympian in Washington's capital city, which it only recently purchased from a third company, Gannett. K-R also owns slightly less than half-interest in the Seattle Times. (more…)