Sunday, January 11, 2009

Departing Sacramento Bee columnist says McClatchy has "the best leadership in the business"

In his farewell column published Sunday, outgoing Bee columnist Peter Schrag reflected on the state of the newspaper business and offered his opinion that McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt is one of the best leaders in the newspaper business.
Unlike some others, The Bee and its parent company have a good chance of coming through the storm, not as a clipper ship, but, if it retains the courage of its historic convictions, refitted as a sturdy sloop not so different from what it was a century ago. Our democracy can't remain healthy without the professional reporters and editors and the strong voices that try to make order of the information on which an informed citizenry and healthy communities must depend.

Mistakes were made. In trying to show confidence in the future of the industry, McClatchy caught a huge fish called Knight-Ridder at just the wrong time. But it still has the best leadership in the business.

But, wait a minute. Pruitt was the architect of the Knight Ridder deal, a huge disaster of a deal. In terms of timing, the Knight Ridder deal is certainly one of the worst newspaper deals in our generation, since McClatchy doubled down in print media at the exact time print media was heading downhill. Worse, Pruitt's Folly saddled McClatchy with $2 billion in debt, which threatens to sink the entire company and its 30 daily newspapers.

The massive debt has forced the company to lay off nearly 2,500 employees in the past year. Other factors -- advertising migrating to the internet, a declining economy -- contributed, but the heavy debt meant McClatchy had little flexibility and no room for error. Energy and assets are targeted to keep lenders, not subscribers, happy. Profits from the $190 million Miami Herald land transaction won't be used to give employees raises or upgrade equipment or hire talented journalists -- proceeds will be used to pay down corporate debt. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has put its historic building up for sale, and you can bet the proceeds will be shipped to corporate to pay lenders.

And don't get me started on Pruitt's shady dealings in February, 2007, when he quietly sold 40,400 shares of McClatchy stock, at a cool $38 a share. Today, MNI is trading at just over $1 a share. Commitment to the company? No, not if actions speak louder than words.
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Saying Gary Pruitt is one of the best leaders in the business is like saying the captain of the Exxon Valdez was an excellent sailor "except for that one bad day."
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19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am also quite sure that the second mate on the Titanic was a big fan of the captain as well. Good for him. Blind, deflective and PC to the very last.

Archer05 said...

What is with all this nautical language? “not as a clipper ship” -“McClatchy caught a huge fish” -“refitted as a sturdy sloop” - and Howie Weaver said, [Pruitt’s]“hand on the tiller.” Man, why don’t they just throw in the Titanic for the ending to this little “Ship Ahoy” theme?

Man over board - SOS - Throw out a lifeline.” (But Sir, the lifeline is not attached to anything. All the better matey.)

The “Scuttlebutt” is, the rag biz is “Touch and Go” as the current biz downturn is “Taking the wind out of his sails” - The biz needs to “Start Over with a Clean Slate” - Pruitt is “Over the Barrel” and finds himself - “Three Sheets to the Wind” - You are “Pooped” matey, open the “Booby “Hatch” and tell Pruitt to “Pipe Down”

THE NAUTICAL ORIGINS of Some Common Expressions
http://www.fortogden.com/nauticalterms.html

Anonymous said...

Claiming that Gary Pruitt is one of the best leaders in the industry says less about Pruitt than it does about the rest of the industry.

Anonymous said...

-.-. --.- -.. - .. - .- -. .. -.-. ....- .---- .-.-.- ....- ....- -. ..... ----- .-.-.- ..--- ....- .--

CQD Titanic 41.44 N 50.24 W

Anonymous said...

Even better.

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Lab/8972/titanic.html

McClatchy Watch said...

Archer05 -- don't forget Howard Weaver's funny nautical comments about Gary Pruitt -- in Howard Weaver's farewell message to McClatchy employees, he said "the boat and its captain are secure."

Archer05 said...

McClatchy Executives message after dumping MNI stock:

... ddddd ddddddddd ddddd ddd dddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd dd ddddd dddddddddd ...

That is Morris Code for: “So Long Suckers”

Anonymous said...

I think these McClatchy guys are dinghy. Pruitt hasn't been above board for quite some time. The whole company is adrift with out a true soundingor solid bearing. The company is swamped, the compass is broken. The Knight-Ridder deal ended up a full broad side volley with all the crew taking the brunt of the hit, now it's every man for himself...forget about the women and children! They are flying an Absentee pennant! The whole board of commanders are a bunch of bombay runners. Pruitt is between the Devil and the deep blue sea.
Shall I carry on mate? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_nautical_terms

Anonymous said...

Who will lead the mutiny ??

Anonymous said...

Schrag's ship sailed more than a decade ago, yet the Bee kept running his rambling, inane and fantasy opinions. Thank God somebody woke up and put this hack out of his misery. While his comments about Pruitt may be hilarious, we're overjoyed that the Bee finally made a good decision - getting rid of Schrag!

Archer05 said...

Anon 9:17,
I enjoyed your post. I took a look at the site you referenced. I actually didn’t pay that much attention to nautical terms until McClatchy started swimming in them. I have used dozens of nautical terms, and I didn’t even realize it. I have to watch out, I am going to learn something here.

Anonymous said...

The ship was lost some time ago and the crew now operates from "Giligan's Island."

Anonymous said...

“Schrag's ship sailed more than a decade ago”

How about more that two decades ago? These old news dinosaurs are directly to blame for the antiquated print media that is in a downward spiral today. Schrag is a liberal jackass, if that is what a disgraced donkey is called. I’ll bet ‘Writing With a Purpose’ is the preferred writing style reference for the old duffer. He probably still uses the hunt and peck typing skill that some of these clueless old fogies brag about. How many talented Internet-savvy employees did he kill off with his stupidity?

Dave D. said...

...I'm with 11:33,...We're watching the SS Minnow storm tossed and driven up on the rocks, when all they were prepared for was a three hour tour, ( sound of thunder : CRACK ! ) a three hour tour..

Archer05 said...

“Pruitt is a joke” - They were saying that in 2007. Pruitt is still a joke, nothing new here, moving right along.
--------------
Minneapolis News: City Pages:
"Pruitt is a Joke"
-In the Star Tribune newsroom, there's plenty of pissed to go around-
Britt Robson

Excerpts:
“McClatchy's blindsiding of its staff ….”

“But we were led down a path to believe that McClatchy was in fact different—that they don't lay off people…”

http://www.citypages.com/2007-01-10/news/pruitt-is-a-joke

McClatchy Watch said...

More nautical analogies in the 2007 piece from Minnesota:
"Obviously Pruitt is the number one source of anger, and then it spreads out depending on who you speak with," says columnist Doug Grow. "There is certainly some anger at Anders. Here is the ship listing, and there goes the captain. And that certainly is a mighty fine-looking dinghy he's got out there.

Anonymous said...

Arrogance rewarded:
Gary Pruitt of McClatchy was often quoted as saying “we’ll be the last Dinosaur standing.”

Anonymous said...

Damn, I just purchased a new 96' MY compliments of MNI's demise and you people want to jinx the incoming cruiser class!

P.S. Relocate to Panama, it's the New America!

Archer05 said...

I finally finished reading Schrag’s article. What a liberal nitwit. All the things he mentioned as good works, are the very things that have brought CA to the brink of closing down their state offices for a few days a month. He is so old he is still taking about Nixon.

The environmental regulation he is so proud of is strangling the business opportunities in a very ‘Blue’ state that is turning ‘Red’ in ink, anyway. Talk about a petrified dinosaur, this guy in Howie Weaver-speak is a “F**king” prehistoric man.
Aside, I am wondering if he took an early ‘bailout’ of his McClatchy stock with the rest of the weasels.