Column: ‘Flip that Newspaper,’ and how we got here

Business North reporter and my former editor colleague in the former Murphy McGinnis chain of northern Minnesota newspapers wrote a great column for Business North about the state of newspapers, specifically the local weeklies and small dailies common to most of Minnesota. You’ve probably heard that newspapers are in tough financial shape. You’ve probably heard this blamed on the internet. As Beth explains, that’s only part of the story:

In the booming 1990s, newspapers were bought and sold, and sold again. Properties that once had ownership dating back decades, or a century, suddenly found themselves with new ownership every year or two, even more often in some cases. Each sale made each newspaper, or newspaper chain, a little less viable in the long run as long-term investment and long-term planning (i.e. a concrete plan to deal with the Internet revolution that everyone knew was coming) took a back seat to short-term profits, which of course made for a more attractive business flip.

She continues:

to reinvent their products, newspapers will need stable ownership and management. They must be treated as long-term investments — both business and public service investments — if they are to survive in this new competitive climate.

In short, just as on Wall Street, the corporate greed model doesn’t work anymore.

Read the whole column.

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