NEW YORK It must have surprised its own newsroom as much as it did news operations and media observers across the country.
After reports surfaced Tuesday that the Star Tribune in Minneapolis would be sold by McClatchy Co. to a private equity firm called Avista, a columnist at the paper, Doug Grow, said workers there — like everywhere else — were scurrying around the Internet trying to find out anything about Avista.
“Everything we’ve heard from McClatchy recently is ‘Hey, we’re all in this together. We don’t do layoffs.’ Blah blah blah BS,” he told the Associated Press.
Shocking, innit? That managers might BS reporters as if they were mere commoners!
Seriously – that’s one of the parts about this story, and the decay of the major media in general, that makes it so hard to feel too much sympathy for the Strib staffers. Media people – especially at newspapers – see themselves almost like a monastic order, driven to a higher calling than the proles they “serve” with their reporting. They show it in their reactions to things like blogs (Nick Coleman summed the situation up as “astronomers being assaulted by people who swear that aliens force them to have sex with Martians” from his point of view) and mere readers (see: any Kate Perry column); they are the lonely beacons of enlightenment serving an ignorant and benighted rabble against the encroaching dark.
Maybe reality is starting to sink in?
The New York Times on Wednesday observes: “The sale caught most employees at the paper off-guard [an acquaintance at the Strib, not in the newsroom, confirms this – MB] and angered some newsroom employees, who expressed concerned that Avista Capital Partners, which owns no other daily newspapers, could make severe staff cuts.”
And if that happens, what will the peasants do for fair, objective news reporting? Like this?
Nick Coleman, a metropolitan columnist for the paper, told the Times, “It was like, who? Everyone knows the whole industry is in play and that just about anything could happen, but nobody thought we could get sold. There’s a real sense of betrayal …
“At a fire sale,” he said, “people get discounted, so we’re very concerned, worried and anxious.” But he added, “maybe it takes someone from outside the newspaper business to see the way forward.”
Five will get you ten it takes someone from outside the Strib to see it. Goodness knows they’ve had enough opportunity.
it’s a great time to be in the news and advertising business.”