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Star Tribune Sale: Then $1.2 Billion, Now $530 Million

Want to know the fate of American newspapers? Here it is: McClatchy Co. bought the Minneapolis Star Tribune for $1.2 billion eight years ago and today announced it was selling it for $530 million. Little did I know, when I worked for the Star Tribune as its Sunday Magazine editor from 1984-1990, it was probably the end of its golden age. It was still part of the Cowles family and each fall as an employee you could buy ducks and other game from their private game farm. Seems quaint now that McClatchy, once noted for its high quality journalism ethic, sold the Star Tribune and its journalism tradition to Avista Capital Partners, a private equity firm, leaving newspaper industry analyst John Morton to say he:

found the sale “inexplicable and disappointing.”

“The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a good reputation, has always had a good reputation. It is the kind of newspaper that you would have hoped a company like McClatchy would continue to own,” he said.

“Clearly what is happening to McClatchy is that they are much more concerned about their overall financial performance than they are about publishing newspapers, the way I read it,” Morton said.

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