The Message of McClatchy

The situation McClatchy is in defines the paradox of journalism today — that Wall Street business practices and serving the public’s right to know are profoundly disconnected.

On News You Might Have Missed, we’re always looking for the story that’s off the beaten track, but which illuminates a larger societal concern.

We’ve often found McClatchy taking the lead with reporting on important international stories that just aren’t cracking the mainstream — such as the Afghan opium economy, or Ethiopia’s Ogadun conflict. Their Iraq reporting, too.

In that light, an item in Fortune magazine (“McClatchy’s Fall from Grace,” Dec. 18) is telling:

“Holy smokes–what happened to McClatchy?

“Just a few years ago, industry observers hailed the newspaper company and its boyishly charismatic chairman and chief executive, Gary Pruitt, for growing earnings and producing solid journalism at a time when some of its rivals couldn’t accomplish either.

“The peak: March 22, 2005, when the company’s shares hit an all-time, split-adjusted high of $76.05.

“Then the industry turned and so did McClatchy’s fortunes.”

It couldn’t be clearer that radical thinking is required to secure good journalism practice as an institution of democracy. The commercial business model has simply failed.

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