Deep-pocketed investors grab papers from the bargain bin

Good morning.

  1. Bargains amid consolidation
    So why would you buy a 142-year-old newspaper in Dover, New Hampshire whose circulation has dropped 50 percent in a decade? Is it because you're a politics junkie and old enough to remember how Bill Clinton made a campaign-saving speech there in 1992 amid the Gennifer Flowers extramarital scandal? (The New York Times)

    Well, the real answer: $5 million seemed like a good price. "The spectacular decline of print in the past decade" is making may potential investors gag but also "providing an opening for bargain hunters who believe newspapers still have value." (The Wall Street Journal) Yes, the industry is dominated by 11 companies, including USA TODAY publisher Gannett. But nearly half of the 41 million papers sold daily are owned by 200 smaller guys and "a move to roll them up is under way, driven by a sharp decline in prices." One of the more acquisitive operations is New Media, run by a private-equity firm, Fortress Investment Group LLC. Now read the next item:

  2. Why being at the Oscars is important for Marty Baron
    He and his former Boston Globe colleagues will be there Sunday because "Spotlight" has garnered several nominations, including one for Best Picture. The Washington Post editor writes, "The rewards will come if this movie has impact: On journalism, because owners, publishers and editors rededicate themselves to investigative reporting. On a skeptical public, because citizens come to recognize the necessity of vigorous local coverage and strong journalistic institutions. And on all of us, through a greater willingness to listen to the powerless and too-often voiceless, including those who have suffered sexual and other abuse." (The Washington Post) Whether or not the film wins, one can hope he's right, but hope with what diplomats calls cautious optimism. There are lots of media outlets there dropping the ball amid what they deem cost- and click-driven pragmatism. Will the bargain-hunting companies listed above find Baron's hope vaguely relevant?
  3. A 'brutal' night beckons
    You'd think the paramedics will be just offstage in Houston tonight as Wolf Blitzer moderates the last Republican debate before Super Tuesday. "Cruz, Rubio prep for brutal debate night: In final show before Super Tuesday, the senators are poised to unleash a nasty assault and emerge the anti-Trump." (POLITICO) "Donald Trump is talking about wrapping this race up," CNN's Chris Cuomo said this morning, while CNN's omnipresent presidential debate clock ticked, ticked, ticked. "14:26:09," it heralded as I grabbed for the clicker.
  4. Egypt and Rodney Dangerfield
    The Egyptian government stopped investigative reporter Hossam Bahgat from heading to Jordan for a UN conference from Cairo International Airport. It wouldn't say why. "He has written reports on politically sensitive issues such as alleged corruption and secret military trials." (CPJ) This reminds me of listening to comedian Rodney Dangerfield at a Manhattan club long ago and his tale of a "joint in Jersey that's so tough, it costs two bucks to get in, four to get out."
  5. The greatest lede in history was...
    Well, now that its primary is over and most of the nation forgets about scenic New Hampshire for another four years, there's time for University of New Hampshire students to look at presumably hundreds of newspaper stories. Their aim is to inspect the Pulitzer Prizes website "to find great ledes through history." (UNH)
  6. Dealing with extremism online
    Tech and media executives headed to the White House Wednesday for a meeting to discuss violent extremism found online. It all takes on perhaps greater relevance with Apple's fight in the court of public opinion in not letting the Justice Department unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers. (The New York Times) ABC's David Muir scored an interview in which Apple boss Tim Cook claimed that what the government seeks from him is the "software equivalent of cancer." (ABC)
  7. Great reporting from a Connecticut bartender-turned-writer
    John Saward, a 29-year-old who tended bar for five years, has been following Ben Carson for VICE and Donald Trump for Vanity Fair. He's worth a look. To understand Trump, he goes to a strip club in Morgantown, West Virginia and a grocery-diner in Clarksburg. "And, well, if you’re pissed off, if your hopes for your stagnant town have wilted and died, who better than Donald Trump, America’s tooth fairy emeritus? He is a man who has turned the excruciating, real-life, how-are-we-keeping-the-lights-on pissed off into something marketable, a 140-characters version of pissed off, something easily packaged and disseminated." (Vanity Fair)
  8. Acquisition spree for Tribune Publishing?
    So now there's the suggestion that, having booted the CEO, the new major shareholder at Tribune Publishing may well want to expand in some substantial way beyond its 11 newspapers. (Crain's Chicago Business) The problem with the thesis is that the ex-CEO's luring of the new major shareholder, a Chicago tech executive, had a lot to do with needing cash to perhaps eke out a bid for one California newspaper. Barring an infusion of additional capital, it would not seem to be positioned to grow in any big way.
  9. So whom might Bloomberg hurt?
    While Bloomberg Politics continues to avoid reporting on any potential presidential run by the boss, this question: Which party would a Michael Bloomberg candidacy hurt more? In sum, "With polls suggesting that Bloomberg would draw more Democratic than Republican voters, it makes little sense that Trump's surge would prompt the former mayor to run. That said, Bloomberg's viability may be strengthened if Clinton is damaged by a drawn-out nomination process." (The Washington Post) You'd still get better odds betting that Joe Scarborough endorses Bernie Sanders.
  10. Oscar bulletin
    "For the first time ever, the Academy is allowing ABC to broadcast interviews live from the Grand Staircase. Lara Spencer and Amy Robach will also be a part of the show, along with People magazine’s Jess Cagle and FABLife co-host Joe Zee." (Adweek) The Grand Staircase! Who needs the Sistine Chapel?
  11. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
    Karin Brulliard runs The Washington Post's Animalia blog. Previously, she was a deputy foreign editor at The Washington Post. (Email) | Tom Jackman will run The Washington Post's True Crime blog. Previously, he was a reporter at The Washington Post. (Email) | Job of the day: The San Antonio Express-News is looking for a Web reporter. Get your resumes in. (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.


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