Newspaper killer confesses!

May 8, 2008

At last, we have found a culprit who is slowly killing newspapers across the United States. Her real name is unknown, but her online identity is daphne3620 and she left the following comment on the Web site of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Now I feel like garbage I read the Star Trib online and don’t subscribe to the actual physical paper. Sorry .. guys! I would gladly pay to use the site here .. give it a thought. I am serious .. I will pay.

This comment was attached to an article posted to the Strib’s Web site on May 6 that revealed that the paper’s owner had to write down 75 percent of the $100 million it paid for its stake. Private equity firm Avista Capital Partners engineered a purchase of the paper from McClatchy Co, which was announced in 2006. Since then, the paper has hemorrhaged revenue, just like many other big-city dailies.

The write-down, taken at the end of 2007, reflects the estimated loss of value and is consistent with the falling stock prices of publicly held newspaper companies such as McClatchy and the New York Times. Avista’s public accountants required the private equity firm to write down or “mark to market” the estimated value of the Star Tribune.

The memo denied a recent report in the New York Post that the Star Tribune may file for bankruptcy.

“The Star Tribune currently has sufficient liquidity and is up to date on all its debt payment obligations,” said the memo, distributed by Avista.

And if this turns out to be wrong, daphne3620 and all her freeloading friends will have to pay a very big price indeed. (Me included.)

(Photo: Reuters)

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