Thursday, May 25, 2006

Back to Blogging, I Guess

This blog will reflect on news, views and the manipulation of both in this century of spin.


I started into this blogging business last January, primarily as a way of forcing myself to write more often. My blog then was Musing on And after a year of weekly posts I ran out of time and out of steam.

But too much is changing in the world around me and the news business to sit idly on the sidelines. And so I thought I'd once more add my voice to the chattering masses in the hope something good can come from all this noise that is blogging.

The traditional news business is in big trouble these days. Last week my old newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, was sold -- along with all other Knight-Ridder newspapers -- because the chain's profit margin was "only" 16.6 percent and one big stockholder wanted bigger returns.

Just who ends up owning the Merc and Knight-Ridder's other top newspapers remains cloudy.
But the American newspaper landscape once again has gotten smaller -- the voice of American journalism that much more homogenous.

I'll reserve this space over the next year or few to commentary about the news, how it's being reported and how it's being distorted. I'll write less frequently but I hope as personally and professionally. As always, I'd love to see whether anyone out there in the wilderness finds me. If so, stop in for a digital cup-of-coffee. There's nothing I love better than a warm fire and a few sparks.

Jerry Lanson


Jeffrey Seglin said...


Good to see you back blogging.

A lot of noise has been made about Knight-Ridder's decision when going public to offer only one class of stock. By doing this it allowed Wall Street to put pressure on the newspapers to perform better and better each quarter. If two classes of stock had been issued as other newspaper chains did when going public, it might have eased some of that pressure. Or that's how the current thinking goes.

What I'm wondering is whether you see the current sell off as a sign that the fading health of newspapers in the U.S. or as more of an indication of what can go wrong when Wall Street is allowed to step in and put profit pressure on newspapers to perform better financial quarter after quarter so the stock price improves. Does it suggest that issuing only one class of stock gives over too much control to investors who know little about the business and are driven solely by a desire to see their stock price rise?

This quarter-to-quarter short-term thinking is part of what I think caused some of the companies caught up in the corporate scandals of the past four years to go astray.

So I'm wondering if you think this recent sell off of the Knight Ridder papers is a sign of newspaper health fading or more a sign of the myopic behavior of corporate investors to look for short-term returns that could wreak havoc on the long-term health of a company.

7:32 AM



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