Monday, January 01, 2007

It's not what McClatchy sells--but what McClatchy bought

So, McClatchy decided to sell the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to Avista Capital Partners for less than half of its purchase price...

But let's look at a bit of background to try to discern the minds of McClatchy:

The MNStrib was NOT part of the huge McClatchy-KnightRidder deal. McClatchy bought the Strib in 1998 from Minneapolis-based Cowles Media Company.

Avista C.P. appointed Chris Harte to run the Strib--who seems to have some knowledge of the newspaper business, with his last newspaper positing being one of president of the Portland Newspapers, publisher of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram and still is part owner of 8 Maine weeklies. Yes, he may appear seriously smarmy to some but he's not totally without newspaper creds of some kind.

But, all hoo-ha over selling aside let's take a closer look at what's been going on re the citizen media/social media side of both McClatchy and the Star-Trib:

The Star-Trib launched a entertainment guide/social media site back in November, with Matt Thompson at the helm--who's no fool when it comes to running social media sites.

McClatchy purchased and just recently....

Now, could McClatchy be more interested in focusing its money and efforts into social media sites in its own California neighborhood--thus turning its efforts more into ones of local ownership-- than trying to manage a newspaper with its own social media site (and citizen contributor site) in another state? Yes, Avista C.P. is based in New York, but where will Chris Harte's main office be if he's in charge of the Strib?

Maybe it's not really the decline of journalism inasmuch as a re-ordering of the way journalism is done--who writes it, who comments on it, who owns it--and maybe that's not the worst thing in the world in the long run (although it will indeed hurt bunches of people now--no doubt about that.)

I'm going to be *very* interested to see what Chris Harte does with the Strib's social media holdings. As much as the paper is important (because regardless of what the pundits think, lots of people still like "dead tree media"), if we are following the rhetoric these days, it's the social media stuff that's going to make or break the paper. If Harte and ACP gut all the social media stuff that the Strib's been working on--then he might be the total creep that some may think he is right now.

On the other hand, if he brings in some folks to do a good re-design--the site's kind of ugly and hard to navigate--and moves forward with social media, then perhaps Harte will be on the right track.

Only time will tell (and hand-wringing won't help.)


No comments: