September 2, 2020

The transfer of McClatchy and its 30 papers to new owner hedge fund Chatham Asset Management is scheduled for Friday. For the occasion, both board chairman Kevin McClatchy and CEO Craig Forman published farewell columns Sunday in the company’s flagship Sacramento Bee and others.

McClatchy’s revisits family lore dating back to the gold rush days when Irish immigrant James McClatchy, who had worked for a New York newspaper, made his way west and launched the company.

Forman’s is more an analysis of the state of the industry pegged to his four years running the company — with editorial successes and a shift to digital balanced against great financial strain.

Neither treats except in passing what drove McClatchy to seek federal bankruptcy reorganization early this year (heavy debt and an inability to make a required pension plan payment for 2020). However, Forman makes the point that once relieved of those debts, the company’s papers and sites can operate profitably on a cash basis and invest more in business model development.

Whether Chatham will pursue that strategy — or institute big cuts — remains to be seen. Like other hedge funds, it is close-mouthed about most everything.

Look for some hints of where McClatchy goes next as soon as Friday or in the weeks and months ahead.

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

Rick Edmonds is Poynter’s media business analyst. He can be reached at redmonds@poynter.org.

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Rick Edmonds is media business analyst for the Poynter Institute where he has done research and writing for the last fifteen years. His commentary on…
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