Glen Taylor's one of the last people in America willing to buy a newspaper.
That statement would be accurate even if the Minnesota billionaire was just trying to buy a single copy. As it happens, he's looking to buy the whole operation.
Taylor, owner of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (and, therefore, City Pages), the Minnesota Timberwolves, and a host of other businesses, from communications, to printing, to pigs, was recently interviewed by the Twin Cities Business magazine, which made note of the "modest office" Taylor works out of in Mankato.
A large part of that Q&A focused on Taylor's management of the Timberwolves, a promising NBA franchise that started last year on a tragic note, with the death of head coach Flip Saunders.
A very small bit of it was about the Minnesota Lynx, the mid-dynasty WNBA franchise which, tomorrow, is looking to win its fourth WNBA championship in six years.
Taylor also fielded another set of questions on the Star Tribune. Taylor said he's "glad" he bought the newspaper instead of letting it twist in the wind. "The difficulties in newspaper economics don't produce a lot of potential buyers."
In fact, Taylor cares so much about his newspaper, he's planning for its life to go on even after his: Taylor, 75, says he's looking to establish a foundation that would continue to handle the Star Tribune when he dies, instead of trying to land another local owner -- and one who won't drive the whole thing into the ground.
That's effectively what's happening across the river, at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where hedge fund parasites at Alden Global Capital are squeezing every last cent from an ever-shrinking revenue stream. The money managers don't even particularly want to be in the newspaper business, and would probably sell to anyone willing to hit the right price.
Glen Taylor is such a person, but he says one man owning both papers -- ostensibly competitors in the same metropolitan market -- would undoubtedly be met with wary eyes from the Department of Justice. The antitrust hawks at the Justice Department recently intervened to fight a proposed merger of the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register, saying there were "serious" issues when the deal was viewed "from a competition perspective."
So long as that's the feds' position, Taylor says his attorneys tell him to not even bid for the St. Paul newspaper. Though he wants to.
"If the regulatory environment changed," Taylor says, "as good businesspeople we would do it, and it probably would be a good thing for our citizens and for the efficiency of our business."
Dave Orrick, an officer with the Pioneer Press guild, is among the newspaper staffers who've struck out on their own, trying to find a local buyer. Orrick tells City Pages he's aware of Taylor's position, and wishes there were a few more Glen Taylors around.
Even just one.
"We're the Twin Cities, and each city deserves its own paper," says Orrick, a veteran outdoors writer for the Pioneer Press. "In a perfect world, Glen Taylor would have a twin brother who could buy the Pioneer Press to protect it from the continued cuts our hedge fund owner is demanding."
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