Strib as Case Study

The online magazine Slate today lays out a fascinating case for why the about-to-be-closed sale of the Star Tribune and the trend it caps may actually be good news for journalism. Not good immediate news for anyone drawing a paycheck over on Portland Avenue, but good news for the Fourth Estate As We Knew It and maybe really good news for newshounds hereabouts in a couple-three years when the pendulum resets itself.

(In case you've been living under a rock in recent months, the last week of December McClatchy sold the Strib to a private equity concern for $530 million--less than half what McClatchy paid for it in 1998.)

Jack Shafer explains:

Although this halving of newspaper value, which was unforeseen by such an industry sage as John Morton, is tragic news for McClatchy and Times Co. stockholders, it's potentially good news for journalism. It pops the bubble that had carried newspaper valuation beyond the Van Allen Belt. And by doing so, it presents publishers—and Wall Street—with more rational expectations about what sort of profits the newspaper industry can make without destroying itself.