Since I’m interested in newspapers these days, I’ve been following the fate of Knight Ridder with anticipation. Knight Ridder is a large company that owns dozens of local papers across the country, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. Tonight the NY Times is saying that a smaller group, McClatchy Company, is buying them out for $4.5 billion. The whole deal has been seen as a sign of weakness for the newspaper industry, as it feels the threat of readers and advertisers moving online.
It is expected that the new owners will make a lot of cost cutting measures, including shutting down the Philadelphia Daily News. I think this would be a big mistake, since the “People Paper” has a style and an audience that the Inquirer does not. If it does happen, hopefully the Inquirer will have the sense to scoop up some of their talent and breathe some life into their publication. The Philadelphia Inquirer certainly has a proud tradition, but lately has become a poor local newspaper that wastes space with international wire stories. I’d also like to see the new owners try new things with Philly.com and the rest of the Real Cities network, since the Internet is going to be the future for these papers.
The real reason I am writing about this though is that my family has been discussing the impending sale a lot this weekend. We have a friend who is an editor at the Daily News and is really feeling nervous about the future of his career – even before the sale was announced. Apparently many people in both newsrooms are nervous and a lot of the veteran writers have been retiring just to save jobs for younger ones. It’s a tough time for the industry and I hope that new management will have the sense to try to do new things and adapt to the changing market.
Update: No sooner is Knight Ridder sold, does new owner McClatchy put the Inquirer and Daily News up for sale. We’ll see what happens next.