I call for Pruitt to be fired as an accountability act for his gross mis-management of the MNI balance sheet. Pruitt was in a one man auction with himself on the Knight Ridder deal, and he paid substantially more than any company was willing to offer. He was wildly optimistic on the future of newspapers, and based on his recent comments he expects the business to turn around once the economy does.
I call for him to be fired because I believe he is out of touch with reality. I have worked at MNI papers where he clogs up the internet pipes with his silly musically themed messages to employees, quoting lines from Lenny Kravitz or the Stones. I believe people on Wall Street saw these same messages and questioned whether he was serious about the task at hand.
Under Pruitt's watch the stock has tanked, it will be delisted, on the verge of bankruptcy, and no publicly stated plan on what the turnaround thesis is.
He got rewarded a $1,000,000 bonus for the Knight Ridder fiasco. I, and 4800 other employees, lost our jobs, our careers, our livelihoods, and our sense of self worth. So for me it is personal. His action resulted in an entire company being wiped out through excessive debt at exactly the wrong time.
As for his successor, she will have to decide where to spend what little capital they have on trying to maintain a local presence both in print and online. The industry is toast and will never, ever return to the level it once was. That is not Pruitt's fault.
The only hope for MNI in the long run is to be acquired by a Google or Yahoo or MSFT, organizations that understand the value of news gathering and how those stories are important in the news search components of their internet business. So the main skills the next CEO will have to have is an understanding of how best to get a company ready for sale, and how to extract the highest value to shareholders from that sale. Pruitt has proven twice (Cowles and Knight Ridder) that he's a lousy deal maker, so he'd surely settle for much less than the company's true value on a sale to Google, probably in exchange for a long term consulting arrangement.