With McClatchy Newspapers’ acquisition of media giant Knight Ridder early last week, the local implications of the $4.5 billion deal resounded here loud and clear.
The bottom line is that the two major dailies in the region, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, will be sold to whomever will buy them.
What does that mean for us? Industry observers have speculated that whomever buys the papers may liquidate one of them – notably the Daily News.
The city of Philadelphia will be at a huge loss if that were to happen
Sure, profits for both papers have seen little gain in the past few years, but a Philadelphia without two major dailies?
Who would force City Hall to clean up its act like the Inquirer did in the ’80s with Pulitizer Prize-winning coverage of city government?
Even more so, for journalism students on Main Campus, the loss would be felt deeply. Many of us have benefitted from having those two papers to call our college town newspapers.
Specifically, in the School of Communication and Theater, many journalism students have benefitted from having those two papers in their “backyard.”
They have provided fall and summer internships to students looking to gain experience in the field prior to graduation.
Without those two newspapers, students majoring in print journalism will have to look elsewhere, namely much smaller markets, to hone their newsgathering skills.
McClatchy’s chairman, president and chief executive said in a statement: “These are terrific publications but simply do not fit with our long-standing acquisition and operating strategies.”
In short, like many of the Knight Ridder papers now owned by McClathchy, they were not making enough profits in their respective markets.
Most of the time, industry experts note that the market the paper finds itself in is the clincher – not the paper’s quality that drives such multi-million dollar deals.
Much like the staff buyouts of last November, shareholders and stock brokers decide what’s best for journalism. What this looks like to us is brokering our education without students – who are the future – having a say. CEOs, chairmans and shareholders make the deals, but who ends up at the short end of the stick? We do.
When it comes down to it, we lose because when resources that are valuable to success in our field of choice are minimized or, better yet, eliminated, the business loses.