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Journalistic Bomb

"That's only worth so much, of course. But it does suggest that Warner will probably have an easy time snapping up talented campaign workers, which is one metric that can, er, incent political journalists to hype a candidate's early credibility."

Jay Rosen comes up with an unorthodox plan for the sale of Knight-Ridder.

"Knight-Ridder announces that rather than sell to another big company or get bought, it has another plan: to break itself up. It will sell all 32 newspapers it owns to local buyers who will pay a premium for the opportunity to own the local daily. If no such buyers are found to exist, there is no transaction. The plan is called the Main Street Strategy to distinguish it from Wall Street thinking.

"The goal of the plan is to maximize shareholder value. That means a total price equal to or better than what shareholders could be expected to realize from any of the options commonly talked about today in the industry and the press: takeover by another newspaper company, purchase by a private equity firm, or cutting quality further in order to halt the erosion in market share (the current strategy.) A second goal is to improve the probability that quality journalism will happen in the future in the 31 towns where Knight-Ridder operates newspapers.

"The strategy contends that local ownership is most likely to pay a premium price for each property, and also more likely to invest in quality down the road. To the plan's doubters one answer is: what strategy do you have for getting a premium price?"

But Jeff Jarvis says the nation's second largest newspaper chain (and much of the business) needs to re-invent itself.

"I have to disagree with Jay -- or at least get tougher than he does -- on a few key points:

"First, buying a paper as it stands today is a no-win deal. Newspapers are not growth businesses. Though profitable, they are shrinking businesses.

"So any owner who comes in will be forced to make no end of tough decisions: cutting back staff, including newsrooms, and shifting the business from the formerly high-margin and monopoly print world to the lower-margin and highly competitive online world. Those decisions will be costly, bringing severence and possibly shutdown liabilities, as well as considerable unpopularity.

"So I would challenge the business and editorial management and staffs of these newspapers to come up with their own tough and specific strategic plans so they can sell their future, not their past, to prospective buyers:

"Yes, they should plan their own cutbacks everywhere in the operation, including the newsroom.

"They should find the efficiencies that will allow them to increase the value of their products: Do we really need another movie critic? Do we really need to send our own guy to another damned golf tournament? Can we save money on the commodity news that takes up so much resource?"

Finally, at Open Source Media , a coalition designed to attract advertising for bloggers, Charles Johnson and Roger L. Simon are sort of rebranding:

"Once upon a time, some friends who met in the casual atmosphere of the blogosphere (us) got together and decided it would be groovy to start a blog company. 'We could call it Pajamas Media,' we said, referring to the now-famous quote by whatshisface, who disparaged bloggers as a bunch of guys sitting around in their sleepwear. Well, we were as surprised as anyone when we managed to raise a significant amount of capital to form said company.

"At our swanky launch party in the Rainbow Room at New York's Rockefeller Center on November 16, we changed out of our 'pajamas' both literally and figuratively. We went from being www.pajamasmedia.com to OSM(TM) Media, LLC, the OSM being short for Open Source Media. And oh, what a drubbing we took. Many, many readers pointed out to us that OSM(TM) was an oxymoron; the open source tech community expressed concern; and a very fine gentleman named Christopher Lydon at Open Source (www.radioopensource.org) politely pointed out that we might be trampling on his space. (We're sending him a pair of warm, fuzzy slippers, a heartfelt apology, and his name back, as we speak.)

"All of which, as it turns out, has led us to make a change for the better. We are re-assuming our identity as Pajamas Media. (Just give us a few days to sort the technical issues out.) In short, the whole experience of being caught with our pajamas down has been a bit embarrassing, but in the end, when we realized we could get our beloved name back, we were overjoyed. So a warm, hearty thanks to all of you who expressed your displeasure with our phony identity.

"So how did this happen in the first place? Back at the beginning, certain, shall we say, paternalistically minded parties (i.e., the guys in suits) decided that we should act like grownups, and being as yet somewhat immature -- at least as businesspeople -- we did as we were told."

You'd think bloggers , of all people, would ignore the suits.


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