Investment guru Warren Buffett’s outlook on newspapers is dismal

In fact, Warren Buffett has said don’t buy newspaper stock at any price. The days of the monopoly newspapers huge readership and advertising revenue are long gone.

What happened? Take a look at this modest blog’s stats: The 7-day traffic average is now passing hundreds of thousands of hits.  The majority are college graduates and in their peek buying years ages 25-55.
I predict the Boston Globe will go online with just a Friday/Sunday printed and delivered paper. 

The age of objectivity and fair reporting in America is over — MSNBC is disgraced

Who is a Democrat PR talking head and who is a journalist on MSNBC, NBC or CNN? Why stop there? The Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times and SF Chronicle are not investigating economic issues and massive bailouts. What kind of balanced journalism do you think the media performed during the two-year election?

First the gang journalists piled on Hillary, next they covered for Obama and attacked Palin.

MSNBC was the victim of a hoax when it reported that an adviser to John McCain had identified himself as the source of an embarrassing story about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the network said Wednesday.

The New York TImes had a reporter rewrite an AP story on the hoax and they spun the story to blame FOX News first with the hoax.  This is called journalism?

MSNBC was the victim of a hoax when it reported that an adviser to John McCain had identified himself as the source of an embarrassing story about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the network said Wednesday.

David Shuster, an anchor for the cable news network, said on air Monday that Martin Eisenstadt, “a McCain policy adviser,” had come forth and identified himself as the source of a story saying Palin had mistakenly believed Africa was a country instead of a continent.

Eisenstadt identifies himself on a blog as a senior fellow at the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy and “a contributor to FOX News.” Yet neither he nor the institute exist; each is part of a hoax dreamed up by a filmmaker named Eitan Gorlin and his partner, Dan Mirvish, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

The Eisenstadt claim had mistakenly been delivered to Shuster by a producer and was used in a political discussion Monday afternoon, MSNBC said.

“The story was not properly vetted and should not have made air,” said Jeremy Gaines, network spokesman. “We recognized the error almost immediately and ran a correction on air within minutes.”

Gaines told the Times that someone in the network’s newsroom had presumed the information solid because it was passed along in an e-mail from a colleague.

The hoax was limited to the identity of the source in the story about Palin—not the Fox News story itself. While Palin has denied that she mistook Africa for a country, the veracity of that report was not put in question by the revelation that Eisenstadt is a phony.

Eisenstadt’s “work” had been quoted and debunked before. The Huffington Post said it had cited Eisenstadt in July on a story regarding the Hilton family and McCain.

Among the other victims were political blogs for the Los Angeles Times and The New Republic, each of which referenced false material from Eisenstadt’s blog.

“The story was not properly vetted and should not have made air,” said Jeremy Gaines, MSNBC spokesman.

There are plenty of questions that are not asked.

How did Minnesota Democrat Party election officials come up with 500 more votes for the Democrat senate candidate days after the polls closed and none for the Republican candidate?

Why was there a crisis over $150,000 spent on Sarah Palin’s campaign clothing, but no comparison with Hillary’s warehouse of pantsuits or Obama’s Greek columns and semi-truck of suits?

Newspaper and news magazine circulation is dropping. Layoffs continue. (Wait until after January).

The Star Tribune bankrupt

By Mick Gregory

We are observing the death throws of a star on its way to becoming a white dwarf. Gasses spewing, used matter is shredded and  thrown out. The size of the once bright, powerful force rapidly shrinks as it collapses on itself. These are the telltale signs of a dying star.

The Star Tribune, once among the Midwest’s largest newspapers, was purchased by the Sacramento-based McClatchy media company in 1998. The “executive editors”  paid $1.2 billion for it from a family who wanted out of the business.

In less than 10 years, the rapid growth of Google, Drudgereport, Craigslist, E-Bay, FaceBook and WordPress lured away much of the newspaper audience and built new readers/users that were not newspaper-friendly. So the advertising found new rising stars.

Last year, Avista, a New York-based private equity group, purchased the dying Star Tribune for less than half of what McClatchy paid only eight years earlier.

Since Avista’s purchase, the star has been shedding  reporters, editors, photographers, advertising sales staff and designers through two rounds of buyouts and the elimination of open positions. That was just a show for creditors.

Now, in January of 2008, the Star-Tribune filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

The Star Tribune’s long-term business slump has continued, with revenue declining by about 25 percent, from $400 million in 2000 to $300 million last year, according to a Star Tribune story in July. While major expenses such as newsprint and transportation  increased.  Even those adult newspaper carriers throwning papers out of the window of their pickups, need to be paid.

Several weeks ago, Avista announced that it was writing down the value of its $100 million equity investment in the Star Tribune to $25 million. That’s $75 million wiped out in one year. The Star shed more than $1.15 billion in value over nine years. The new owners are getting pennies on the dollar trying to restructure their debt.

The only candidates for buying into debt-ridden newspapers now are hedge funds, especially those that make a specialty of distressed debt investments, according to several industry observers. It’s called a loan-to-own strategy, they calculate that the owners like Avista will default on their new loans and the fund becomes the new owner for pennies on the dollar. What’s left may be some downtown real estate and a false store-front Web site. This is the white dwarf stage. And there are hundreds more flickering, spewing gas and spitting out  used up matter.

Newspapers Drop Circulation Again. Sunday Circulation Falls by Nearly 5 %

Mick Gregory

The New York Times circulation fell 4.5 percent.

Here is a lesson to reporters who keep carping on “high profit margins.” There is no growth in this industry. That’s why stockholders won’t buy into your obsolete business model.

The future is bleak. There is too much competition now. Your one horse town monopolies don’t mean anything anymore in the global economy.

Circulation fell at most U.S. newspapers in the six months to September, according to statistics released on Monday that for the first time include Internet readership in a bid by publishers to boost their attractiveness to advertisers.

Average daily paid circulation for newspapers printed Monday through Friday fell 2.6 percent and Sunday circulation fell 3.5 percent for the six-month period that ended September 30, 2007, compared with the year before, according to publishers’ statistics released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Most big city dailies reported that average daily paid print circulation fell. Dow Jones & Company Inc said daily circulation at The Wall Street Journal, including paid subscriptions to its Web site, dropped 1.5 percent, while The New York Times fell 4.5 percent.

Advertisers have considered print circulation key to determining where they spend their dollars, but publishers hope the Web numbers will provide a better picture of the true reach of newspapers. Editors never bothered to push for a level playing field by counting total readership as broadcast uses viewers.

“We generally agree that we can now truly gauge the impact of newspapers across the variety of media platforms that they truly represent,” said Dave Walker, chief executive of Newspaper Services of America, which buys ad space in papers.

Gannett Co Inc reported a 1 percent rise in daily paid circulation at USA Today, while the Philadelphia Inquirer said circulation rose 2.3 percent.

The Washington Post reported a 3.23 percent drop, while the Chicago Tribune fell 2.9 percent. Its parent company Tribune Co said circulation fell at Long Island, New York’s Newsday, but rose 0.5 percent at the Los Angeles Times.

The new data includes the number of people estimated to read a paper, not just how many papers were sold.

Many also are reporting usage of their Web sites, as well as a figure that tries to count print and Web site use without counting people twice who use both.

Alan Mutter, a former newspaper editor who writes a blog on newspaper and media issues called Reflections of a Newsosaur, said many newspaper Web site visitors to not remain long enough to make them worthwhile for advertisers.

“Who would work at a newspaper today, except liberal perverts… Why wouldn’t they be working as Web masters?”
–Michael Savage

Circulation fell at most U.S. newspapers in the six months leading up to September, according to statistics released on Monday from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). For the first time, the 19th century “official” verification company for newspapers includes Internet readership in last chance bid by publishers to boost their attractiveness to advertisers.

It’s always slow for the editor-centric newspaper business to catch on to common media practices let alone innovation. After all, most newspapers are run by former reporters who made their way up the ranks to management by making “scopes” and stabbing their coworkers in the back; not on actual business accomplishments or enterprise.

Sunday circulation fell nearly 5 percent.

The declines come as readers move online, but they also stem from publishers’ efforts to cut discounted copies from their subscription rolls, said a spokeswoman for the Newspaper Association of America.

Some papers, particularly in California and Florida, are dealing with the weak housing market, while others face their own regional trends, such as in Michigan where papers have cut jobs as they serve markets hurt by the slumping auto industry.
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After Fighting to Change Upper Tier Management at the New York Times, Major Investment Bank Morgan Stanley Sells Off $183 Million in Shares

Mick Gregory

The New York Times empire is crumbling. Look out for falling debris. Stock is at a 10-year low.

Now, it is the top headline on the Drudge Report.

Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest shareholder in New York Times Co., sold its entire 7.3 percent stake today, according to a citizen journalist who knew of the transaction, sending the stock to its lowest in more than 10 years.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act didn’t do anything for investor rights of New York Times stock.
Continue reading

Newspapers continue the downward flush. The only ‘floater’ to pop back up is Gannett–because of the sale of poor performing newspapers

The downturn in the newspaper industry is getting worse. Come to think of it, why would it spring back? They are still run by the PC editorial elite, not managers. Except for News Corp. and Gannett, which are run by real executives.

Here are some stats collected by the Wall Street Journal on the eve of their premium buyout by News Corp.

Last fall, newspaper executives and analysts were caught by surprise by the severity of a slump that took hold last summer. Since the beginning of this year, the rate of decline in advertising revenue has accelerated. Total print and online ad revenue was down 4.8% to $10.6 billion in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to the Newspaper Association of America, compared with its full-year decline in 2006 of 0.3%. Actually they should be unscrewing the Cooks sparkling wine for that.

• The Bad News: The rate of decline in newspaper advertising revenue has accelerated since the beginning of the year.
• The Background: Competition from the Internet and other media has transformed the market. In addition, real-estate classifieds have plunged along with the property market.
• What’s Next: The decline, which has sent newspaper stocks into a clockwise spin down the toilet, has prompted restructuring and consolidation, and has affected Dow Jones’s talks with News Corp. and the auction of Tribune Co.
Publishers have reported sharply lower ad revenue for April and May. The depth of the downturn is expected to become clearer as many companies report second-quarter earnings in coming days. Gannett Co. plans to report later today, and Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and McClatchy Co. tomorrow.

In the first quarter, revenue for every major ad category — classified, national and retail advertising — was down. The sharpest declines were for classifieds, where spending dropped 13.2% — not so much a result of competition from the Web as of economic woes affecting certain categories of advertisers. Real-estate classifieds, until recently a bright spot for the industry, have plunged along with the property market. Auto and employment classifieds are also sinking. Financial-news outlets such as the Journal are being hurt by a slump in technology advertising.

“Right now, you’ve got a perfect storm,” says Edward Atorino, an analyst with financial broker Benchmark Co. He predicts total ad revenue will fall 4.3% this year. The decline will be one of the steepest in history. See what I mean, a .3% drop will be looked at with fond memories.

Yet, the editorial executives continue to court Democrats, and denounce American corporations and have no clue how to manage a sandwich shop, let alone an expensive newspaper.

Oops there go 86 more Gannett employees, kerplop!

Mick Gregory

The Honolulu Advertiser, the biggest newspaper on The Islands and the most honest masthead in the U.S., is offering “enhanced” retirement packages to 86 workers in an effort to reduce its staffing. The Gannett Co. has been cutting staff everywhere below the radar. But when the numbers approach triple digits at one paper, it gets noticed.

In a letter to employees Thursday, publisher Mike Fisch said the company wants to reduce its workforce “to adjust our operating plans to meet the new market realities.”

Fisch said the company is asking employees 55 and older with up to 20 years of service to consider the retirement offer, which is being made to both union members and non-members.

This smells of targeting older employees. Age discrimination anyone? Is there a lawyer in the building?

He did not specify the details of what he described as an “attractive benefits package.”

It’s something like, if you don’t take this, you aren’t going to like it here, why can’t you take a hint?

“We’ve also seen a softening of the Hawaii economy over the past eight months and we believe it is prudent to adjust our staffing as we have other expense elements to provide is the flexibility we need to operate our business successfully,” Fisch said in the letter.

Fisch said no department will be “significantly impacted” by the workforce reduction, which he described as voluntary. Voluntary is an important word; if it weren’t the layed off could come back and say they signed the “payoff” under pressure.

WSJ reporters find that the profit picture is over for the Star Tribune

Mick Gregory

The newspaper industry writes its own obituary.

The smartest guys in the room at the WSJ wrote a story on leveraged buyouts; specifically: “This week, investors who purchased loans backing Avista’s buyout of the Star Tribune newspaper learned that the company’s cash flow already is running as much as 20% below Avista’s original financial projections for the deal, which closed just three months ago…”

Some of the loans earlier this week dropped to around 96.5 cents on the dollar before rebounding to around 97.5 yesterday, according to data from the Standards and Poors LCD. Such levels indicate investors are worried about the newspaper’s ability to repay its debt.”

The print media can’t even cover the cost of newsprint and transportation, let alone a staff of a couple hundred leftist arrogant reporters and editors.

Make note that the WSJ wouldn’t have the honesty to investigate the finacial picture of their own media. At least not now, that the FOX empire is opening negotiations for a sale.

The same reporters should show the realistic profit picture of the WSJ; them may be able to keep their jobs.

Which will be the next major newspaper to shut down and to exist as a facade online? Better yet, when will all the newspapers be online and only a select few will continue with token print editions?

Citizen journalists will have more readership than the old media at that centerpoint, just years away, in my opinion.

One out of four to be cut from the San Francisco Chronicle news department

Managing Editor “Steps Down” (Really, I didn’t know he was standing on a higher plane than the rest of us? Perhaps an ivory tower?)

Mick Gregory

The Chronicle will cut 25 percent of its newsroom staff in the next month.

“This is one of the biggest one-time hits we’ve heard about anywhere in the country,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, in Washington.

Not so rosey for the Fourth Estate.

Managing Editor Robert Rosenthal will be leaving The Chronicle after nearly five years at the newspaper.

In a note to the newsroom staff, Rosenthal (known as Rosey to the elite editors) said he was departing “without rancor or acrimony.” (That’s redundant. But it sounds very intelligent. Wouldn’t you say that Rosey had a rather elevated view of himself?) He said he is not sure what he will be doing next but “I hope to help another organization grow and another group of talented people find success.”

(Rosey, the readership of The Chronicle sank dramatically during your 4.5 years. And you laughed over Manhattens with Phil, as scores of Chronicle employees in Marketing Communications, Creative and Advertising lost their jobs. You hadn’t built anything, but your bar tab at the “M.” )

I think it’s time where the skills we have as journalists can be applied in a different way. The business model for newspapers is clearly broken,” Rosey.

No, Rosey. You don’t know the first thing about business. The business model was thrown out the fifth floor window of The Chronicle when Hearst allowed Phil Bronstein and other hack copy editors run the entire enterprise.

In fact, here is an editor’s idea of a motivational pep talk at the neighboring Mercury News:
Apparently responding to a report that the Mercury News plans to cut 60 newsroom positions, executive editor Carole Leigh Hutton tells her staff that “we’re in the midst of a difficult budget season for the fiscal year that begins in July. We’re discussing a number of cost-cutting measures. As soon as I can give you some definitive plans, I will. Meanwhile, I hope we can focus some of that energy on doing the journalism we do so well.”

Just two weeks ago, the paper revealed a coming 25 percent reduction in newsroom staffing.

Eighty reporters, photographers, copy editors and others, as well as 20 employees in management positions will be joining Rosey by end of the summer. Chronicle Publisher Frank Vega (nicknamed “Darth Vega”) said Friday that voluntary buyouts are likely to be offered.

Dozens of The Chronicle’s marketing, creative, special section writers, sales and production departments have been reduced during the past few years, but until now the newsroom “elite” have been spared deep cuts.

One has to ask, how much is Phil Bronstein (the last husband of Sharon Stone) worth? Do you think Phil saw his own shadow?

Now it’s going to be one out of four hitting the cold, windy streets of San Francisco.

Michael Savage reported the self-serving article written by a reporter waiting for the “buyout” papers.
Savage has a keen mind and can zero in on the problem, it’s the leftist mindset, with American and family values mocked and slammed on a daily basis by the “journalists” that is the main problem for The Chronicle’s demise.

They were the cheerleaders for Cindy Sheehan, who just last year, was in photos with Hugo Chavez as they both denounced the USA. But the top of the Democrat machine pulled the plug on Sheehan’s wages. They said, “Good Riddance Attention Whore.”

The Chronicle newsroom didn’t get the memo in time. Now they were to turn on Sheehan. Watch, a little late, but they will now.

Advertisers are middle class entrepreneurs, not socialists. Advertisers and readers have many more options available. The monopoly is over.

“I can’t wait to see if the Hearst inheritance cases will get rid of the thing (Bronstein) in these cuts,” Savage said Tuesday evening.

Oh, the tales that are being slurred in the Guiness foam at the corner pub tonight. Pour me another, brother!

That is the way the McClatchy Newspaper Company Crumples

Mick Gregory

Circulation continues to fall along with advertising revenue. This news wil not be found in the A section today. Maybe page two in the business section?

Yet, Gannett continues to gain, while the cut staff to the bone. They are the most aggressively managed media company. They are able to keep producing profits like a mature oil patch, using all the stimulation and artificial lift technology available to keep the depleated well pumping.

Weekly circulation at U.S. dailies has dropped 2.1% over the past six months, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Sunday papers saw a 3.1% drop in circulation over the same period. The figures reflect 745 of the country’s 1,400 or so daily newspapers. The New York Post bucked the trend with a 7.6% rise, followed by the New York Daily News with a 1.4% gain. The Dallas Morning News saw a 14.3% decline, due in part to a circulation cutback to within about 100 miles of Dallas. Newsday saw a 6.9% decline. Newspaper circulation has been dropping steadily as news consumers have turned increasingly to other media, particularly round-the-clock cable TV news and the Internet.

The Dallas Morning News and Riverside News-Press Fall Below Expectations for Belo

Publisher and television station owner Belo Corp. said Thursday that first-quarter profit and sales slumped on a double-digit decline in newspaper revenue.
Profit fell 10 percent to $15.5 million, or 15 cents per share, in the January-March period, down from $17.3 million, or 16 cents per share, a year ago.

Analysts had expected profit of 13 cents per share, according to a survey by Thomson Financial.

Revenue fell 5 percent to $354.1 million from $371.7 million, missing Wall Street’s estimate of $368.7 million.

Belo owns four daily newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News, and 20 TV stations.

Executives forecast that TV revenue would rise by low-single digits in the April-June quarter, while newspaper revenue would decline but probably less than it did in the first quarter.

Newspaper group revenue fell 11 percent in the January-March period on soft advertising conditions, including the weak housing market in Southern California, where Belo publishes The Press-Enterprise in Riverside. Advertising of autos, health care and furniture was soft, while ads for financial services, restaurants, movies and home improvement were better, executives said.

Excluding an extra Sunday in the first quarter of 2006, newspaper revenue would have fallen slightly less — 9.3 percent from a year ago.

Belo’s newspapers have lost readers in recent years. Executives hope that a recent redesign at its flagship Dallas paper will stop the slide by tailoring the paper to its most loyal readers.

“A lot of newspapers have seen a lot of circulation move in the last three or four years, and we believe there is a point where your core readership defines itself,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Robert W. Decherd. “We hope we’re going to reach that soon.”

Belo cut jobs last year through voluntary buyouts at the Dallas and Riverside papers, which led to an 11 percent decline in newspaper costs in the first quarter. Lower newsprint prices helped, and Belo used less of it.

Major left-leaning papers are bearing the brunt of the responsibility for the declines. The same papers that promote global warming and bury the news on Nancy Pelosi’s non-union and illegal hiring practices.

Papers that are showing daily drops of 5 percent or more, according to circulation sources, include:
The Miami Herald, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Austin American-Statesman, the San Jose Mercury News, and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Gary Pruitt, CEO of the McClatchy Sacramento chain continues to spin. To give a taste of what is to come, during Q1, McClatchy executives said daily circulation fell 3.6 percent and Sunday dropped 4 percent. The Sunday paper is their aircraft carrier of revenue and readership. And it’s taking water.

Shares of newspaper publisher McClatchy Company fell to a seven-year low yesterday while the stock market hit an all time high busting the 13,000 mark.

The McClatchy fall came after the company posted a sharp drop in 1st quater net income on slumping classified print ads. Revenue grew on last year’s acquisition of 20 newspapers from Knight-Ridder. Q1 net profit came in at $9 million ($0.11/share), a 67% drop from $27.7 million ($0.59/share) in the year-ago quarter. Excluding items, the company would have had EPS of $0.18. Revenue rose to $566.6 million from $194.5 million. Analysts were expecting an average EPS of $0.27 on $564 million in revenue, although estimates varied widely. Ad revenue dropped 5.3% from last year to $477 million in Q1. All three main categories of classifieds — automotive, real estate and employment — suffered double-digit percentage declines.

Big Cash Bonuses for Executives — Not oil companies — Newspapers

By Mick Gregory

How much do the top management of today’s media empires make? We only seem to see reports of the CEOs of a few global oil companies. What about the newspaper business? A product that is not a necessity in today’s multi-media age. Let’s look at the McClatchy gang.

These bonuses for McClatchy Newspaper executives are in addition to their annual salaries. Not a bad take for walking around in suits discussing global warming and the chances of Hillary/Obama winning in ’08. This is in sleepy Sacramento, with a nick name of “Sack-o-tomatoes” because it is smack in the middle of central California’s farm belt and you see semi-trucks by the score stacked high with small red potatoes that look a lot like tomatoes.

You can see the demographics in their Sunday best, as they make the trip to town. You know, starched white shirt, cowboy hat and boots on Pa, Ma has highlights and a long cowgirl skirt. The kids look like gang bangers. Old Town Sac has maintained wood sidewalks for that “Old West” look.

This is where the McClatchy Bee newspaper empire holds court. Bee is a very old-timey name for a newspaper, isn’t it? Kind of cute. “Busy bees.” Who knew this clan would end up gobbling up Knight Ridder, then pay for half the purchase by selling off the prestigious Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News and the San Jose Mercury News right off the bat?

In an industry that is losing revenue every year and piling on expenses, while it cuts its staff and puts more and more operations offshore, to Pune, India, isn’t it funny that they reward this type of executive management?
How about offshoring management? With today’s Skype, Web conferencing, and Business Service Software, the real number crunchers in India could streamline operations in months.

Here is the president of McClatchy, Gary Pruitt from two years ago.

Base Pay $950,000

Bonus $1,100,000

Restricted Stock $0

LTIP Payouts $108,600

Present Value of Option Grants $342,194

Other Annual Compensation $0

All Other Compensation $19,171

Total Compensation $2,519,965

Stock Option Exercises and Cumulative Balances

Shares Aquired on Exercise (#) 0

Value Realized for Options Exercised $0

Remaining Exercisable (vested) Options (#) 301,250

Remaining Unexercisable (non-vested) Options (#) 268,750

Value of Remaining Exercisable Options $9,616,656

Value of Remaining Unexercisable Options $3,204,843

Data for fiscal year ended in 2004

The following executive officers received the cash bonuses shown below:

Name and Title Amount of Annual Cash Bonus
Patrick J. Talamantes, Chief Financial Officer $170,000
Bob Weil, Vice President, Operations $200,000
Frank Whittaker, Vice President, Operations $220,000
Howard Weaver, Vice President, News $129,000

—SEC report 2006.

These figures are just “‘at-a-boy” bonuses. Just triple the figures and see how much the suits made out.
Here is what they received two years ago:

Frank R.J. Whittaker
Vice President Operations $1,277,252

Robert Weil
Vice President Operations $1,257,148

Patrick Talamantes
Vice President Finance and Chief Financial Officer $1,003,908

Howard Weaver
Vice President News $726,720

Let’s look at McClatchy stock (MNI) on the NYS exchange. The past 12 months high – $56.12, The past 12 months low – $36.95

Today’s price — $36.91. Whoopsie! If that price holds or drops this afternoon, it’s new low. After all that wheelin’ and dealin’. Well, time for another board meeting, and editorial executive summit, Palm Springs?

Molly Ivins — The Texas Liberal Icon Has Died. Get Ready for the Mother of All Obits. Updated.

By Mick Gregory

Molly Ivins was the Texas Democrat party’s biggest supporter for 40 years. Newspapers always deliver big obits of their own, but when they are uber-liberal “celebrity” columnists, get ready for a state funeral pageant.

Although the press is fond of labeling FOX News journalists and nearly all Republicans “right-wing,” they rarely call even the most liberal journalist or Democrat left-wing.

But not so for Molly Ivins. Ivins was a self-described leftist agitator. She made her living as the Texas Democrats’ pit bull.

—————–

Update: Sunday, February 4, 2007
Every day we have seen more updates on the late Molly Ivins. The journalists who have “touched her robes,” or sat at her feet and heard her anti-Reagan, Bush bashing, Arnold scorn (she said he looked like a condom filled with walnuts) one-liners.

James T. Campbell, at the Houston Chronicle, had his little brush with famous Ivans when she volunteered to speak at a conference of the National Association of Black Journalists. (One has to wonder about associations based on skin color).

For nearly 45 minutes, she captivated the audience with her salty humor and delicious tidbits about Texas politics and politicians. She saved the day. She was my heroine.

Sill, I was embarrassed. The conference had no budget to speak of, so I couldn’t even offer her a small honorarium. She settled for gas money, a couple of drinks and my company at the hotel bar.”

molly-ivins-rip.jpg

Read “The Mother of All Obits,” today in your daily newspaper. In The Houston Chronicle, she gets front page play today, a 2-col. photo with a jump to page four, about 80 column inches with “pull-quotes” and photo of her as an “intern” with the paper in 1966.

“I’ll remember sunsets, rivers, hills, plains, the Gulf, woods, a thousand beers in a thousand joints, and sunshine and laughter. And people…Mostly I’ll remember people.” — her farewell column to Texas Observer readers in 1976, when she took a job with the New York Times.

She was fired by the New York Times six years later, “because she didn’t show due respect and reverence to the great dignity…”

Andy Ivins, brother to late columnist Molly Ivins, recalled his sister smashing a beer can on the deck of the family’s boat in New York to the puzzlement of those on board.

He also remembered his sister disliking UT fraternities but devouring the beer they dispensed. His stories set the tone for Ivins’ memorial service, where those in attendance seemed determined not to focus on her passing, but on the unorthodox qualities that defined her as a friend, party girl and liberal megaphone.

Can you imagine being too liberal for the New York Times?

I met her in 1982 at Times Mirror‘s Dallas Times Herald. I was in my early twenties, fresh out of college and as promotion manager, advertised the super stars like Ivans. She was the headliner of the LA Time’s liberal journalism expansion into Dallas, Houston and Denver. She got top billing. Her face was on billboards and the sides of delivery trucks, and her quotes in radio ads. Her left wing, in-your-face rants may have helped sink each of those “left coast” papers in time. Only the Denver Post survives today, because of a Joint Operating Agreement for failing newspapers, with the Rocky Mountain News.

Her resume reads, “After the Times Herald folded, she joined the Fort Worth Star Telegram.”

Correction: The Times Herald didn’t fold. It was purchased by the Dallas Morning News and turned into a parking lot.

It wasn’t Ms. Ivan’s fault. Her anti-American rants is what she did. Her attacks on Ronald Reagan and the conservative values of Dallas readers caused a mass exodus of circulation and advertisers from the Times Herald to the Morning News. The same thing happened in Houston and Denver. Who knew? Editors still don’t get it.

One of her repeated gems was: “Ronald Reagan was so dumb he couldn’t pour water out of a boot if the directions were written on the heel.”

The Minneapolis Tribune hired her as its first female police beat reporter, and she claimed one of her proudest moments of her journalism career was when the department named its mascot – a pig – in her honor. Funny stuff. By the way, The Minneapolis Tribune, a well-known liberal New York Times wannabe, and was dumped off on private investors just a month ago.

It wasn’t the publisher’s fault, Thomas McCartin at the Times Herald was a Times Mirror Company (TMC) man all the way. His initials (TMC) allowed him to have custom monograms on his cuffs, stenciled into glass doors and in the marble. McCartin wouldn’t argue with Otis Chandler’s top editors’ plans. It was the editorial executives who had the vision that a socialist, poison pen columnist would increase readership in conservative Texas and Colorado. They were out to show the establishment who was boss.

Tom McCartin was a marketing, community events promoter of “Dallas, City of The Arts” and jazzy new sections publisher. He switched the paper from a blue collar afternoon paper to a morning, middle- and upper-middle class paper (on the surface) through promotion, almost overnight. He may have known about the liberal-snob link before the rest of the mainstream media. McCartin was a marketing genius. He didn’t dwell on the leftist takeover of the Times Herald’s editorial department. He was used to that, having worked at the LA Times and for a time, the Washington Post. Ken Johnson, the executive editor of the Dallas Times Herald also came from the Washington Post. David Broder — the famous lefty who is a regular on “Face the Nation” and other Sunday morning political shows actually had an office at the Times Herald for a stint. I promoted him too. We had a party at the downtown Dallas paper where liberal heavy hitters gathered. I even have a picture of me with Martha Graham, publisher/owner of the Washington Post. But I digress.

Johnson “knew” that Ivins was his kind of journalist. The editorial department was well funded at this boom time and there were layers of managing editors.

Here’s a little piece from an editor, Jim Schutze at the time:
…There were six or seven assistant city editors, a city editor and half a dozen people with the words “managing editor” somewhere in their titles sitting around the desk.
I harrumphed for attention, then said, “I have written a column for tomorrow’s newspaper that I am worried about. It’s a fairly personal attack on a wealthy and powerful citizen of the city, known to be litigious, and I fear that it may be libelous. I worry that the column, in its present form, may harm the paper. Would any one of you be willing just to read behind me on it before I send it to the printers?”
No one moved. There was a long silence, They all kept their eyes glued to each other or to their computer screens. I refused to move. I waited. Finally one of them whirled around and held up his hands before his face with the two index fingers in the sign of the cross, in the gesture used to ward off vampires.

Schutze was showing a friend that he was free to print anything he wanted and attack the big shots at will. That’s the environment that Molly Ivins worked in for a few years, anyway. The paper’s enemies — and even some of its liberal friends in the Democrat and black communities — closed in on the Times Herald editorial slant.

There were jabs by Ivins and others about “lavish holiday parties” by builders who were overcharging for their new homes, the same story on the evil new car dealers. The home builders and auto dealers simply pulled their advertising from the Times Herald and put it in the more conservative Morning News.

As ad revenues fell, editors were less able to defend the journalist “foot soldiers” from the Dallas establishment’s heavy weights. In 1984, the paper finally gave in to critics and Molly Ivins was kicked-off the metro section front page. Molly was still allowed a fairly visible spot on the Op Ed Page, but she had to get out of Dallas and move to Austin and she had to stop writing about the business leaders in Dallas. Ken Johnson left with a golden handshake from McCartin and Chandler and started a chain of weekly newspapers called Westward Communications. That chain actually got back to basics and covered local news. Johnson learned his lessson about letting the rabid left wingers destroy the advertising base.

Ivans was a diehard liberal. She boasted about that. She was at nearly all the fancy fundraisers with her gal pal, the former governor, Ann Richards. She hung out at with Dan Rather and Jim Hightower at fundraisers in lawyers private mansions around Texas.

Ivins had a reputation as something of a partyer, and, until her health declined, she hosted at her Austin home monthly gatherings of writers, Marxists, druggies and rabble-rousers.

She was a colorful writer. It’s just too bad she didn’t spread some of her talent and power of the press to attacks on LBJ, Jimmy Carter, Ann Richards, Hilly and Bill Clinton. Maybe the Houston Post and Dallas Times Herald would still be around today.

Ivans was actually born in Carmel-Monterey, California and grew up in Houston’s River Oaks. (That’s where Ken Lay used to live). She attended Smith College, her mother’s and grandmother’s alma mater. Her father was a rich corporate lawyer and a Republican.

She put on persona that she came from the piney woods of East Texas. Now you know that she has a lot in common with Democrat leaders, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Diane Fienstien, Teddy Kennedy, perhaps even fed with a silver spoon.

She missed her calling, that was some act she put on. RIP.

——————–

Visit the Wonkette to see a liberal point of view. Like which conservative columnist should die next.

http://wonkette.com/politics/gene-weingarten/political-humor-columnist-trifecta-who-must-die-next-233080.php

Editor-Centric New York Times Loses More Than $800 Million in Fourth Quarter, Yet Makes Room for Baquet

The New York Times Co. posted a $648 million loss for the fourth quarter as it absorbed an $814.4 million expense to write down the value of its struggling New England properties, the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

It’s fun to watch editors with no business acumen calling the shots and rearranging the deck chairs as the big old ship, New York Times takes on water.

The top editors made a space for the former LA Times editor, Dean Baquet. You have to wonder what hard-working, award-winning New York Times editors think of that, especially the next time there is another round of layoffs. Baquet was reported hoping and holding out for new owners of the LA Times to have him “back at the helm.”

“it became clearer and clearer to me that the New York Times was the place where I belonged now,” Baquet said.

Would Senator Biden think that Baquet is “clean and well spoken?”

Newspapers killing Scripps profit picture

Mick Gregory

When did newspapers make 20 percent profits?

The Scripps Co. owner of several newspapers and the popular HGTV channel, sent out a press release to stock analysts stating it is “talking about options” for its newspaper division, which is dragging down the company’s stock price.

“We’ve reached no conclusions, it’s fair to say,” Chief Financial Officer Joseph NeCastro said at an investor conference late Tuesday. “But we do believe that there probably is some value to be created in looking at a structural alternative there . . . maybe some form of separating the newspapers out.”

Scripps has built its cable-networks business, which includes HGTV and the Food Network, into the company’s leading profit generator. It’s now entering e-commerce with acquisitions of Web sites Shopzilla and uSwitch.

Scripps’ newspapers are slow-growth or no-growth. In the first nine months of 2006, the Scripps Networks division, which includes its cable business, posted a 17.8 percent gain in revenue. Meanwhile, its Interactive Media division, aided by the uSwitch acquisition, grew 408 percent.

Newspapers, which account for less than 30 percent of the company’s revenue, saw sales drop by 0.1 percent in the same time period.

Compared to broadcast television, “Newspapers seem to be much more troubled, and it’s hard to call a bottom there,” NeCastro said. “I think up until this last year probably it wasn’t that clear. I think we collectively feel like there is some damage.”

The newspaper industry is in a death ride. The Knight Ridder chain sold itself last year after investor pressure, and the Tribune Co., which paid more than 8 billion dollars for Times Mirror, is now being pressured to break up its newspapers, especially by the Chandler family, (former owners of Times Mirror), to boost its stock.

Scripps’ comments cheered Wall Street, with analysts from Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs publishing positive analyses Wednesday. Scripps stock hit a 52-week high, closing up 3.8 percent to $51.92.

“We were positively surprised by the company’s comments, which indicate that management has given more serious consideration to this possibility than we had previously thought,” Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert said. “Elimination of the newspaper unit would meaningfully enhance the company’s growth prospects and likely translate into a higher valuation for the shares.”

Scripps has daily and community newspapers in 18 markets, including Denver; Memphis and Knoxville, Tenn.; and south Florida. Scripps is a 50-50 partner with MediaNews Group, the owner of the Denver Post, in the Denver Newspaper Agency.

Scripps executives did not say an investment banker has been hired to assist in the deliberations. But NeCastro said the company’s board has spent “a fair amount of time” discussing options.
One possibility is a spinoff, in which Scripps shareholders would receive shares in a new, “pure play” newspaper company. Investors could then choose to sell the newspaper company shares and stick with the higher-growth, new-economy Scripps — or vice-versa.
“We believe (Scripps) could spin out its non-newspaper businesses, could sell most of its papers, or likely pursue many other scenarios,” Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Fine said.

— David Milstead, Rocky Mountain News

New York Times selling off TV stations en mass to keep afloat

The New York Times Co. stated after the stock market closed Thursday that it plans to sell its broadcast-media group, including nine television stations, to Robert M. Bass’s Oak Hill Capital Partners for $575 million.

Facing the prospect of further circulation and advertising declines and the growing threat of online competition, the newspaper giant said it needs to dispose of the properties to focus on core operations (the old gray lady).

“Over the years (the stations) have provided their communities with high-quality programming and have contributed significantly to our financial performance,” Janet L. Robinson, the company’s chief executive, said in a press release. “We believe, however, that our focus now should be on the development of our newspapers and our rapidly growing digital businesses and the increasing synergies between them.”
The lead investor for Oak Hill, Bass is part of the Bass family of Texas oil billionaires. His brother, Sid, recently held a large stake in Walt Disney Co. Robert Bass’s net worth is placed at more than $5 billion. Oak Hill’s committed capital stands at $4.6 billion, the company said.

The nine stations were expected to account for $150 million in 2006 sales, or 4 percent of New York Times’ overall revenue when the plan to sell was announced in September, spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said. At that time, 2006 operating earnings from the group was estimated at $33 million.

The stations are affiliates of ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as one member of the MyNetworkTV group, and are in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. Market sizes range from Memphis to Moline, Ill. They employ roughly 900 people, Mathis said.

While a number of media companies are disposing of assets in order to cut costs, don’t expect large newspaper companies to sell off their broadcast assets en masse like the Times has, said Steven Barlow, analyst for Prudential Securities in New York.

“I wouldn’t imagine you’ll see anything from (other media companies) on that front,” Barlow said.

Guess who is coming to dinner? The Nancy Pelosi $1000 a plate dinner?

Will your 67 year old grandmother be able to have the facelifts and eye lifts that Nancy Pelosi did on Mediacare?

“‘This old woman is quite prejudiced toward China. Therefore, (she) may bring some dissonance to Sino-U.S. relations,’ Professor Jin said.”

Actually, I hope my grandmother can afford a better plastic surgeon. Pelosi’s face now looks like the Joker played by Jack Nicholson. She must sleep with her eyes open.

180px-jokermovie.jpgpelosi.jpg

Are any union bosses and other lobbyists coming to the dinner tonight? Will Nancy Pelosi‘s high-end Piati restaurants be the official caterers? Which Napa Valley wines will be served? Will the Rev Jesse Jackson be at the table? How about Cindy Sheehan? Will the servers be union? Will the women wear burkes? Imagine how much Nancy Pelosi could have saved on face lifts if she wore a burke.

Speaking of Democrat Progressives, this would be a good time to show you the progressive income tax mirroring socialist systems in France and Germany.

The Top 1% Pay 35%

Maybe our liberal friends are onto something. They keep saying the rich should pay more taxes, and it turns out the rich already are! That’s one of the valuable lessons from the IRS’s annual study of income tax data, just released for 2004.

Americans who earned more than $1 million in adjusted gross income paid $178 billion, or an average of $740,000 per filer, in income taxes in 2004. That’s up about one-third from 2002, the year before the Bush tax cuts in marginal income-tax and dividend and capital gains rates. The wealthiest 1% of tax filers paid a remarkable 35% of all individual income-tax payments that year.

Here’s a way to think of the distribution of current income-tax payments: Imagine Nancy Pelosi’s banquet attended by 100 random Americans. If the bill for the meal is distributed like the income tax, the richest person in the room is required to pay one-third of the tab (that would be George Soros) — or more than all 50 attendees with a below-average income. The three richest people are charged as much as the other 97. And the 30 or so lowest-income people in the room — those with a family income of $30,000 or less — pay nothing and eat for free.

The Earned Income Credit, actually allows 30 lowest-income people get paid to eat, thanks to the rest of the people in the room.

Social Security, contrary to Mainstream Media reports, is a “progressive” setup too. In its case, the more you make, the less you get in retirement benefits compared to what you earned while you were working.

And the new Democrats in Congress want to make income taxes and social security even more progressive.

“According to China Daily, Jin Rong-can, a professor at the International Relations Institute of the People’s University of China, pointed out that although the House’s influence on diplomatic policies is actually limited, Sino-U.S. relations will be affected if the democratic party controls the house following the midterm election.”

“‘This old woman is quite prejudiced toward China. Therefore, (she) may bring some dissonance to Sino-U.S. relations,’ (professor) Jin said.”

“Zhang Guoqing, associate investigator at the American Institute of National Academy of Social Science, concurs: ‘The Democratic Party cares more about domestic issues. It will protect the mid- and small U.S. enterprises and American labor’s interests, and thus will have some impact on trade relations between China and the United States.”

Why did the LA Times ignore coverage of this hate crime?

Can a minority be a racist? Mainstream media journalists ask.
The LA Times and CNN stayed far away of this hate crime.

Again, a citizen journalist brought the truth to light.

The story broke on November 3, 2006, when an LA Web site editor William Pearl scooped other media on LBReport.com, quoting Long Beach police spokeswoman Jacqueline Bezart as saying a crowd of black attackers hurled racial taunts (“White bitches!” “We hate whites!”) at the young women, and the police were pursuing it as a hate crime.

At the Press-Telegram, reporter Tracy Manzer quickly landed an exclusive interview with the victims, introducing awkward issues of race and culture rarely (if ever) seen in California mainstream media. Said one victim, identified as Laura: “They asked us, ‘Are you down with it?’ We had no idea what that meant so we didn’t say anything and just walked by them up to the haunted house. They were grabbing their crotches — we didn’t know if it was a gang thing or what.”

Suddenly, newspaper editors, TV-news directors and other media faced an unsettling prospect of their own: If white-on-black hate crime is covered with an apologetic tone and references to the legacy of slavery, what’s the tone for covering black-on-white hate crime? Can a minority be a racist? And how can we, the media, get out of this?

As the Press-Telegram reported, three white women aged 19 to 21 emerged from a “maze” walk in a house and were confronted by up to 40 black teenagers who pelted them with pumpkins and lemons. The paper said, “The taunts and jeers grew more aggressive, the victims recalled, as did the size of the crowd. Now females joined in, and everyone began saying, ‘We hate white people, f— whites!’ ”

Notice there was not the around-the-clock coverage by CNN or any coverage by the LA Times.

Compare this “non story” with that of the Duke Lacrosse team. The alleged hate crime by a stripper and the Democrat prosecutor Nyfong.

Where will you read the followup? In the Mainstream Media?

Nearly 70 cut in Philly — Let the bumping begin!

More McClatchy fallout

There are 68 members of the Inquirer newsroom being laid off this week. Some editors called in “their people” for closed-door sessions Tuesday afternoon. Other learned by phone after work. They’re to have appointments today in HR, both those laid off and those who had to lay them off.

It’s all a little vague because the contract delivers “bumping rights” — the process may play out for weeks — potentially longer if there are legal challenges. Bumping rights are set up by the Guild so that seniority rules and someone with six more months experience than another may bump them out of their job. Sounds like something right out of the former Soviet Union.

More clear is who got the news. The NBA writer, David Aldridge, was in Denver covering the Sixers when he found out. (That was a hell of a gig). The national political reporter, Tom Fitzgerald, heard from a friend. The “gaming” columnist, Rob Watson found out his trips to Atlantic City would be on his dime now.

And now this letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer Publisher:

It seems it’s not the character of one’s writing content, but the color of one’s skin…

Continue reading

Hip LA journo decides not to be recalled to Sacramento — On a listening tour instead

Here is another example of the smug mainstream media

By Mick Gregory

Ms. Laura Mecoy looked at the McClatchy marching orders of a recall to the home office in Sacramento and decided it wasn’t for her. Instead, the paper’s ex-Los Angeles correspondent takes a page from the many politicians she has covered:

After leading The Sacramento Bee’s coverage of Southern California for 14 years, veteran reporter Laura Mecoy today announced the formation of an “exploratory campaign” to determine the next chapter in her life.

Laura will launch her campaign with the traditional “listening tour” at local restaurants, coffeehouses, bars and anywhere else people gather.

Shortly before Christmas, The Bee announced plans to close all its bureaus, including Los Angeles, and “recall” its out-of-town reporters.

“I saw how the recall worked out for Gov. Gray Davis and decided it’s not for me,” Laura said.

Earth to “journo:” without your Sacramento Bee byline, you are a zero. Aren’t you happy that the Democrats you were spinning for will raise the minimum wage?

Inside the mind of an LA Times columnist

You have to wonder why newspaper journalists seem to be so out of touch with the public. Maybe it comes down to elite, arrogant snobbishness.

Joel Stein of the LA Times writes:

I don’t want to talk to you; I want to talk at you. A column is not my attempt to engage in a conversation with you….Not everything should be interactive. A piece of work that stands on its own, without explanation or defense, takes on its own power.

I get that you have opinions you want to share. That’s great. You’re the Person of the Year. I just don’t have any interest in them.

A lot of e-mail screeds argue that, in return for the privilege of broadcasting my opinion, I have the responsibility to listen to you. I don’t. No more than you have a responsibility to read me. I’m not an elected servant. I’m an arrogant, solipsistic, attention-needy freak who pretends to have an opinion about everything. I don’t have time to listen to you.

Hello? We don’t care to digest your opinion anymore. This is the world of Web 2.0. Read up on it. You may need a new job in the next couple of years.