Monday, March 13, 2006

NYT Reports McClatchy To Buy 32 Knight-Ridder Papers For $4.5 Billion

In a ray of light for the newspaper industry, the New York Times reports that McClatchy will buy the 32 Knight-Ridder newspapers for $4.5 billion.

This puts one of the nation's finest journalistic outfits in charge of papers that have taken quite a few hits in recent years. However, McClatchy quickly announced it would resell 12 of the papers, including the San Jose Mercury-News and the Philadelphia Inquirer, as inconcistent with their preferred growth patterns.

It may still point the way toward an eventual acquisition of the L.A. Times, for all we know.

It is not all peaches and cream, since the story in the NYT speculates that McClatchy could decide to close some of the papers it is acquiring, but on balance, this sounds good.

The Tribune Co., dead in the water, did not enter the bidding for Knight-Ridder, where key stockholders were unhappy at a decline in the price of the stock.

The NYT also speculates this could be the beginning of a major shakeout in newspaper ownership.

McClatchy may not be quite the company it was under the great Eleanor and C.K. McClatchy, but it still has compiled an outstanding record of rising circulation over recent years. It is a solid business operation, with progressive ideals.

I had a good chance last summer to read the chain's Anchorage paper and found it quite good.

In short, my own impression is this is good news and bodes well. I'm sorry, however, about the continued uncertaintiy enveloping the San Jose papers.

The core McClatchy papers, the Sacramento, Modesto and Fresno Bees, have long had a record of progressive influence over politics in their areas of circulation, better over the long term than the L.A. Times.

So, let's hope this is a new beginning for our beleaguered profession.


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