Local group trying to buy The Tribune

September 12, 2008

A group of county investors, hoping to keep The Tribune locally owned, is making an attempt to purchase the struggling daily from its parent McClatchy Newspapers.

Both Publisher Chip Visci and McClatchy treasurer Elaine Lintecum declined comment.

The investment group advocates a focus on the community, said San Luis Obispo attorney James Duenow, who is working to broker a deal with McClatchy officials.

Just two weeks ago, Visci offered voluntary buyouts to a majority of The Tribune’ s employees. The slumping economy, declining advertising revenue, a collapsing real estate market, and even competition from online news sources have wounded McClatchy, which also owns an additional 29 daily papers.

In 2007, McClatchy’s stock plunged nearly 70 percent. This year, stock has fallen from $12.90 a share to $3.60 a share. In June, Visci announced plans to lay off five employees as part of McClatchy’s blueprint to lay off 10 percent of its workforce.

Sources tell UncoveredSLO the Tribune annually grosses about $30 million, and nets approximately $3.5 to $4.5 million.


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By: WiseGuy on 9/26/08

I believe you've got your facts wrong NoSpinZone. Newspapers are facing hard times, but I can't find any evidence that says the New York Times is going "bankrupt."

But in any case, the point I was making was regarding the connection between perceived "liberal bias" in relationship to uncovering truth.

For instance, when news agencies point out the lies and misrepresentations presented by the Bush Administration, they get labeled by extreme right wingers as being "liberal biased."

Whether accurate reporting is less profitable than inaccurate reporting, which you suggest, is a whole 'nother topic. But I would rather have accurate reporting from a financially struggling news media, than bad reporting from a highly profitable media agency.

But I would have to agree that good, accurate reporting seems to be less valued by society than it once was.

Finally, I would caution anyone against using viewership figures to gauge the quality or accuracy or any particular news source. Just because a lot of people watch something, is no guarantee of it's quality or accuracy. It's the same with fast food. A lot of people eat it, but that doesn't mean it is healthful.

By: WiseGuy on 9/26/08

If The New York Times is supporting Obama over McCain, it is obviously doing something correct.

Again, I must point out that it is a reporter's job to ferret out the truth. When the truth comes out, it usually favors the liberal and Democratic perspectives. The truth favors Democrats. That's just the way it is.

The news outlets that promote lies and distortions, such as Fox, are thus usually identified as being biased toward Republicans.

It's pretty basic.

By: Cacahuate on 9/18/08

Who cares really. The Tribune has been and always will be a second rate fish wrap of a paper. The best use for the Tribune is to start a BBQ or fireplace fire.

By: Damon on 9/17/08

The newspaper industry is not going to die. It just won't earn as much on the dollar as it once did. Newspapers have always been tremendously profitable – garnering anywhere from 12% – 25% return on the dollar. Eventually the bottom will stop dropping and newspapers will probably steady out earning a profit between 2 – 5%. Sure, it's a drastic fall, but most Fortune 500 companies don't see greater revenue. Wall Street has defined newspapers as part of the media growth sector, but they're more like a utility stock. The days of meeting Wall Street's quarterly growth demands are long gone. Newspaper companies eventually had to start reacting to the market by implementing an austerity plan. The strategy is how much can you cut while still maintaining a quality product, and credibility. Now, right sizing the labor force is a smart business decision, and within the last decade reduction was certainly necessary in the newspaper business. There was plenty of dead weight, but the cuts have gone too far, and coverage has suffered.

The buzz in the industry is to publish more local news to increase penetration in a papers home county. I'm not sure how the Tribune could get any more local. There's weekly, and monthly papers, and on-line news doing it too. No one has proved being more local is going to increase advertising or readership. Although doing quality, in-depth reporting has shown to increase readers.

The idea new ownership could change the editorial stance of the paper crosses the line between the separation of church and state. Owners of a newspaper should keep their hands off what is published. We learned this lesson from the situation at the Santa Barb News-Press, no? Hiring better reporters could win new readers though.

The Philly Inquirer, and Daily News were bought from McClatchy (after being sold by Knight Ridder) by a local private group led by Michael Tierny. They are struggling. So private, local owners don't always revive a newspaper. Real Estate guru Sam Zell bought The Tribune Co. (not related to the SLO Tribune) and set up a Rube Goldberg employee owned company that has continued to suffer financially. His properties include the LA Times, Balt Sun, Chicago Tribune, and the Hartford Courant to name a few.

Ultimately the readers, and the public suffer from the instability of the newspaper market. These times call for a new play on words: No news is not good news. While many of us (the public) do not understand the values of the news industry and the jobs journalists do there are a few tried and true who do. For example, Keith Hempstead is suing the The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC because he claims the layoffs in the newsroom, and cutting of the newshole "constitute a breach of contract with subscribers." Right on Keith! Journalists' first loyalty is to serve the public. Unfortunately, investors are forcing publishers' hands. Cuts are drastic, and in turn democracy is suffering.

By: ThomasPaine on 9/17/08

Good idea goodhelp.

By: goodhelp on 9/16/08

P.S. Here's the actual URL for the article:


By: goodhelp on 9/16/08

One of the best possibilities for SLO residents who care for their community, would be for the Trib to be owned by a non-profit company. Perhaps San Luis Obispo attorney James Duenow can show the investors the wise choice this would be.

Try this article at Poynter Online.

–Newsstand Greg

By: sullyberg on 9/16/08

Option 1–Let the tree huggers buy the Tribune to save trees and the internet. Option 2–Print the Tribune on soft paper and sell it by the role.

By: Gsan on 9/16/08


Mostly agree about the off-subject drivel. Sadly there seems to an increase in blather as time goes on. It would be nice to have an ignore function for certain folks with a track record of nothing to offer besides blather.

I do think that the political one-sidedness, agendas and certain news-stifling/spinning of most papers accelerates the newspaper decline.

By: atasbette on 9/15/08

Well, I read through all the above hoping to find some corroboration about local folks buying the Tribune and all I got was this childish drivel.

By: Zuke on 9/15/08

Hate to see The Tribune fold up… or we'll lose a valuable source of local news & events.

How about the mods delete any post that has the words "Bush", "McCain", "Obama", "Biden, and "Palin"? I get enough political opinion diatribes from every other damn forum whether it's on-topic or not (most often), it would be refreshing if it didn't infect this one too!

By: Gsan on 9/15/08

Please see;


By: rogerfreberg on 9/15/08

Local folks buying the tribune?

Hmmm… how is this a good idea again?

I think local entities such as Cal Poly have to much of a stranglehold on the local media push their weight around with local businesses. What is the real purpose of the Cal Poly Foundation?

Maybe Warren Baker could run the new Tribune and close the circle completely.

Roger Freberg

By: GBJohn on 9/15/08

I don't care who anybody is, I just want to see if there are any intelligent thoughts on the Tribune being bought by local folk.

If SLO fails to maintain a daily with at least 1/2 local focus, we're all worse off.

By: mrbill on 9/15/08

I think it's time for a moderator.

By: Insomniac on 9/15/08

Not obsessed, Mr. Dagna. We're watching you and you will not be allowed to spew your venom and hate on this site (shall I post some samples of the vile you put on Marilyn's site, Jerry?) Your wife — if you have one — would be so impressed.

You were kicked off Congalton's blog for good reason and the same thing will happen to you here. By the way, Congalton seems to be getting far more posts since you were banned.

I'm done. I've made my point.

By: Joe on 9/14/08


Or, NoSpin is Dan/Karen trying to get more hits…. Whatever… There needs to be a grading system like the tribune and any basic PHP website has. Again, you get what you pay for.

By: whoisjohngalt on 9/14/08

Let me add this. The obsession with the alleged peccadillos of SMBill are getting pretty old. I don't like Bill, but he should not be subjected to some sort of bizarre crusade against him. I think it's an attempt to ruin the guy's life simply because people don't agree with his viewpoint or don't like his personality. There I think one might have a valid argument for censorship.

By: CuriousGeorgia on 9/14/08

The "Look at me, I'm outrageous and offensive and there's nothing you can do about it, because I'm hiding behind a keyboard" posts don't deserve our time or energy.

So, about the Trib. Do you think there's a future for it? Is it going to get revived? Is it going to die a slow death?

By: insider on 9/14/08

to Wiseguy

You don't have to share this forum with no spin zone but don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

By: WiseGuy on 9/14/08

Not everything is about "left vs. right." Our community and our nation is much more than that. One day you may understand.

By: jdchem on 9/14/08

Okay, I yield.

By: Joe on 9/13/08

the olde guarde of Knight is still down in Santa Maria, maybe they will come back and rescue the old hometown paper. …OMG I'm gonna pee myself I'm laughing so hard.

By: kenfield on 9/13/08

I wonder if the new prospective owners have any plans to shake up management of the editorial side of the T-T, which seems like a wax museum. The shame is that one wonders if the pool of potential talent for a paper like that may be very small. If you were a smart editor, would you work there?

Like other papers, the T-T can't seem to build a web audience, and it's especially funny to see a small shop like CalCoastNews show them how it's done. On the reporting side, the T-T is an almost constant disappointment while this site does real muckraking. Is it impossible for a local paper to do muckraking without offending too many people and scaring off advertisers?

Does anyone know how well the New Times does, business-wise? They've also failed to build an interesting website.

By: CuriousGeorgia on 9/13/08

I'd love to have a real paper with real news in SLO. Local content is the only thing that can keep local print news alive, but The Fib has been cutting staff, sharing part-timers among departments and relying on the wire.

We have the internet. We don't need The Fib to regurgitate for us. We need them to do reporting.

By: whoisjohngalt on 9/12/08