The McClatchy Strib: RIP? WTF? Pruitt’s Folly, big-daily blues, and the invasion of the stripper-flippers

Pub date January 10, 2007
SectionBruce Blog

By Bruce B. Brugmann

The above head was on the best analysis so far of the McClatchy sale of the Minneapololis Star Tribune to an unknown New York private equity firm with no newspaper holdings nor experience.
It was written by Steve Perry, longtime editor of City Pages, the alternative paper in Minneapolis, and ran in Monday’s edition.

It is a classic alternative press story by an editor who is also good reporter and it shows once again the indispensable value of an alternative paper that is fulfilling its real mission to be alternative to and competitive with the local monopoly daily. No other daily or magazine, in Minnesota or probably anywhere else, will do this kind of excellent media criticism and local power structure reporting and analysis. And nobody will follow the story as City Pages will undoubtedly do.

Let me cite one paragraph of Perry’s report to make the point. Perry sets Pruitt up with some self-immolating quotes and asks the question: “So again: How exactly does selling off this paper at this moment, for considerably less than prevailing industry standards would have dictated, constitute prudent fiscal management?”

Perry provides some answers: “Mike Meyers thinks he knows the answer: It makes no sense at all. The paper’s 57-year-old economics reporter is a figure legendary around the newsroom for his gruffness, acuity, and anti-sentimentality. (‘Don’t ask me how I feel about the sale,’ he growled by way of a howdy=do when I phoned him.
‘I don’t deal in feelings. What matters is the set of facts surronding the sale, which are very clear.’) He has no compunction about sharing his theory of events (‘no, on the record. I hate people who go off the record’), which is simple and to the point: McClatchy management fucked up and put itself in a position where it had to sell something to pay its tax bill.”

And then Meyers and Perry lay out their answer to the question headline that led the story: “PRUITT’S FOLLY: IS THERE A SMOKING GUN IN THE STRIB FIRE SALE?”

Note: Why is the silence out here so deafening–owners, managers, staff, unions– in commenting publicly on the capers of the Galloping Conglomerati (Hearst, Singleton, McClatchy, Gannett, Stephens) who are moving as quietly as they can, sealing key documents in a critical federal court case, to set up a regional monopoly? If anybody knows anybody who wants to talk publicly, let us know at the Guardian. Meanwhile, I am getting no comment from Hearst corporate via Chronicle Publisher Frank Vega and Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein. Soon, I will tell you why. B3

City Pages: The McClatchy Strib: RIP. WTF?