Friday, January 16, 2009

Strib Files For Bankruptcy, Surprises No One

The Minneapolis StarTribune today filed Chapter 13:
The Star Tribune, saddled with high debt and a sharp decline in print advertising, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition Thursday night.

Minnesota's largest newspaper will try to use bankruptcy to restructure its debt and lower its labor costs.

The filing, which was made with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the southern district of New York, had been expected for months. It follows several missed payments to the paper's lenders, and it comes less than two years after a private equity group, New York-based Avista Capital Partners, bought the paper for $530 million.

In its filing, the newspaper listed assets of $493.2 million and liabilities of $661.1 million.

Like most newspapers, the Star Tribune has experienced a sharp decline in print advertising. Its earnings before interest, taxes and debt payments were about $26 million in 2008, down from about $59 million in 2007 and $115 million in 2004.

Oh my, whatever will the local wingnuts have to bitch about, now that their beloved "Red Star" is drowning in red ink? Years and years of bitching about the so-called "liberal" bias of a paper that put a nutty rightwing columnist on its front page, supported Norm Coleman's reelection bid, and generally made an ass of itself by copying every journalistic trend for a decade, and now the Strib is going to join the Big 3 automakers and Citigroup in begging Barack Obama for a handout. Print is generally going to hell across the country--why pay for a classified ad when you can post on Craigslist for free?--but the Star Tribune seemed to make a special effort to screw up everything in sight.

And these local nutters want to complain and call the paper "Communist"? (Psst--ain't no commies 'round here anymore, Cap'n!) Get real. The paper is filing for bankruptcy because the Start Tribune sucks as a newspaper. It veers every which way politically, edits wire service articles (the main reason I stopped reading it years ago), and generally is unrepresentative of its locale. Give me a good local paper, and I'll read it. The Strib isn't it.

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