McClatchy Newspapers File Bankruptcy

Excerpts from a short item on Poynter:

McClatchy, the second largest chain of local newspapers in the United States, filed for bankruptcy Thursday…

The company has struggled in recent years to meet pension demands, including $124 million in pension funding due in 2020…

The Chapter 11 filing will let McClatchy eliminate some pension obligations. In a post on McClatchy’s DC bureau site, chairman Kevin McClatchy said the company’s 75-year-old pension plan includes “10 pensioners for every single active employee…”

If the courts approve the plan, this move will end 163 years of McClatchy family control of the company and hand ownership to hedge fund Chatham Asset Management LLC…

above: during their heyday of McClatchy they got Walt Disney (Co.) to design their mascot.


A more in-depth look from Nieman Lab (with links to other reports):

So now what?

Let’s assume the bankruptcy, despite its non-complete pre-packedness, goes through according to plan and with relative speed. The New McClatchy would be controlled by Chatham Asset Management, a hedge fund that is currently the company’s largest shareholder and lender. Chatham hasn’t been as prominent a player in the American newspaper industry as Alden Global Capital, Fortress, or Apollo. It issued a milquetoast statement on the bankruptcy…

Also important to note: Chatham already has a controlling stake in another big newspaper chain: Postmedia, the largest newspaper chain in Canada. (It owns dailies in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto — translation for Americans: every Canadian city with an NHL team — along with the National Post.)

In our arena, McClatchy has at least three staff cartoonists.
Jack Ohman (Sacramento Bee)
Joel Pett (Lexington Herald Leader)
Kevin Siers (The Charlotte Observer)
Jim Morin of The Miami Herald retired at the beginning of this year and was not replaced. So far.


In other newspaper news, The Dayton Daily News returns to the Cox fold.

Again we turn to Nieman Lab and the story of the prodigal paper:

Apollo bought the Daily News along with a few other Dayton-area media properties Cox owned — two county-seat papers just outside town, the local CBS affiliate, and some radio stations. Normally, a city’s newspaper isn’t allowed to have the same corporate owner as one of its local TV stations — a 45-year-old FCC regulation aimed at protecting media diversity within a given market. But the Dayton newspaper+TV combo has been around since 1949, so the feds grandfathered the arrangement in. But selling to Apollo meant that old special exemption disappeared.

What to do? Well, Apollo — with all the public-spiritedness and sense of civic responsibility you might expect from a private equity firm run by a guy who hung out with Jeffrey Epstein for years — figured out a way to get around the need for an exemption. The FCC regulation only applied to daily newspapers. Federal rules defined “daily” as publishing at least four times a week. The obvious solution: only print the Dayton “Daily” News three times a week!