Media Blog

Fallen Star?

Pithy and merciless analysis from Kansas City:

The new business of the [Kansas City] Star and other papers is to provide reassurance to its community of mostly liberal readers who share the paper’s assumptions about the world and how it works. No wonder most people think it’s out of touch. Like all mainstream American newspapers, from The New York Times on down to the Wichita Eagle, the Star has decided to create a product of huge interest to a shrinking market but of no interest at all to a growing one.
The consequences are everywhere, for newspapers in general, but for the Star in particular: According to the media analysts at Burrelles Luce, in the last three years, the Kansas City Star has lost nearly 20,000 readers. It once claimed to reach virtually every household in Kansas City. Now it’s lucky if it reaches a third of them. Investors apparently think the Star’s a goner: In that same three year period, the price of a share in McClatchy, the company that owns the Star, has nosedived from $72 to less than a ten-spot. Pretty soon, it’ll be cheaper to buy a share in McClatchy than to buy a copy of the Sunday Star. According to another AP story the news hounds at the Star somehow missed, on the same day they ran their vacuous editorial, McClatchy was eating a $1.47 billion write-down “to reflect further declines in its stock price and a tough outlook for its newspapers.” And actually, that $1.47 billion may have been an understatement: The company’s fourth-quarter loss was almost twice as much per share as a share costs.

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