Monday, March 13, 2006

The End of KR

Here are my thoughts: I was pulling for McClatchy, which is a better company to its employees than KR was, especially at the end. But that's no consolation to people who work at the 12 KR papers being cut loose to who knows what fate at the hands of who knows what company. And who's to say that some current McClatchy papers won't be sold off to pay for the KR purchase? I certainly hope McClatchy succeeds but consolidation isn't good if it means fewer reporters and editors covering the news in this country.

Most urgently, what happens to the KR Washington bureau, which has done unbelievably good journalism over the last several years, kicking butt on Iraq, the administation, health care, you name it? The bureau is, no doubt, supported by papers throughout the chain and its news service clients. Philadelphia, San Jose and others could conceivably continue to buy the wire but they might not, especially given the belt tightening that seems in the papers' future, giving the bureau fewer outlets for its stuff. UPDATE: E&P says the KR Washington bureau has been assured that it will continue. That's not only good for the hardy souls working there but good for the country. I'm not exaggerating.

The best these dumped papers can hope for is that they are purchased by either a private individual or company interested in running the papers as good journalism enterprises or the Washington Post or NYTimes company, which are themselves tightening their spending. I wonder if any of the early retirement packages or other incentives are part of a larger scheme to cut costs precisely so these papers can buy others? Highly speculative, probably unlikely, I know. Watch for Gannett and Singleton to try to pick off some of these soon to be ex-KR papers, and maybe Hearst to grab San Jose or Contra Costa, as Dave, over at Eschaton suggested on one of the threads. And forgive me, but how is San Jose not a strong, growing market?

Oddly, I found myself caught up (at Eschaton) in a debate with an individual bent on playing very loosely with language and thus the facts ('KR is the largest chain'--it's not; 'other chains were going to close down the Philadelphia papers* and San Jose'--not reported by anyone I know; 'the Guild has bought the 12 papers'--no, it might be able to buy 9 but there is no such done deal) while she was cheering on the McClatchy acquistion of Knight Ridder. *Yes, the continuing publication of the Philadelphia Daily News was open to question, but not the Inquirer.

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