McClatchy woes an alarm bell for US local news

Friday, February 14, 2020

US newspaper companies have been through a string of Chapter 11 reorganizations in recent years.

The publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2010, Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun publisher Tribune Co. in 2012 and GateHouse in 2013.

McClatchy’s bankruptcy filing “rings an alarm bell for local news,” Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds said. “McClatchy’s problems are very typical for those of local newspapers,” he said, as the industry deals with an old business model that’s deteriorating faster than digital and other new revenues are increasing.

McClatchy’s 2006 purchase of the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain for US$4.5 billion added to McClatchy’s debt and contributed to its financial woes as the industry’s decline accelerated in subsequent years.

Though financial results aren’t yet final, the company estimates that 2019 revenue fell by 12.1 percent from the previous year, its sixth consecutive annual decline. McClatchy said its digital-only subscriptions have grown almost 50 percent to 200,000 over the past year.-AP