Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
As giant platforms rise, local news is getting crushed
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 28, 2014, 2:23 p.m.
LINK: www.bizjournals.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   March 28, 2014

That’s the report from John Vomhof Jr. of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal:

Taylor Corp. and Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is close to a deal to buy the Star Tribune, according to a local report that cites unidentified “people in the know.”

Business Take, a daily business newsletter published by Blois Olson of Fluence Media, reports that Taylor “has intensified negotiations recently” and one source suggested that there is already “an agreement in principle.” Currently, Wayzata private equity firm Wayzata Investment Partners is the newspaper’s majority owner.

I mention this only because it seems to be an increasing trend, and a reversal in local institutional power: Newspapers — once the most profitable, established force in many American cities — seem to be the subject of increasing interest to the owners of major sports teams.

Here in Boston, of course, the Globe is now owned by Red Sox owner John Henry. In my home state of Louisiana, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson tried (and failed) to buy The Times-Picayune. L.A. Dodgers owner Mark Walter has expressed interest in buying the L.A. Times.

I’m sure there are other owners who — sitting on billion-dollar properties and seeing their local daily valued in the tens of millions — have at least thought about flipping over the couch cushions and seeing if they can scrounge up a down payment.

minnesota-timberwolves-nba-cc

It used to be more common the other way around, media companies buying up or starting sports teams — think Tribune with the Cubs, Turner with the Braves, News Corp. with the Dodgers, Disney with the Mighty Ducks. And that still happens sometimes with broadcast companies or diversified media corporations. Consider this paragraph from a 1999 AJR story and think how foreign that world seems today:

The Dallas Morning News [buying a small share of the Dallas] Mavericks join a club packed with some of the biggest names in the business. Most notably, the Tribune Co., publisher of the Chicago Tribune, has owned the Chicago Cubs for nearly two decades. The parent company of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette bought a minority share of the Pittsburgh Pirates to help keep the team in town. The Cincinnati Enquirer is linked with the Reds since parent Gannett has a small interest in the team. Ted Turner’s media empire, now a division of Time Warner, owns parts of baseball’s Atlanta Braves, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and the National Hockey League’s Atlanta Thrashers.

For what it’s worth, the Star Tribune (two Pulitzers last year) has had a better season than the Timberwolves (headed to the lottery and prompting sad videos like this one).

Photo of the Timberwolves by Doug Wallick used under a Creative Commons license.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
As giant platforms rise, local news is getting crushed
The quest for scale, driven by the distribution power of a few enormous technology platforms, is killing the business case for local news. Will anything take its place?
Hot Pod: The podcast collective Radiotopia has a new leader
“I keep hearing stories about her being a great mentor to many a young fledgling producer. To me, that willingness to actively think about the next generation of producers is shorthand for proper leadership.”
Building a j-school from scratch: How The New School aims to bring journalism and design together
“I’m not so much interested in specific skills as dispositions. Are we helping people be able to learn really fast, so when things do change they can move with it without completely freaking out?”
What to read next
2569
tweets
The New York Times built a Slack bot to help decide which stories to post to social media
The bot, named Blossom, helps predict how stories will do on social and also suggests which stories editors should promote.
1287Jo Ellen Green Kaiser: Do independent news outlets have a blind spot when it comes to ethnic media?
The head of the Media Consortium argues that, by defining themselves in opposition to mainstream media, independent progressive outlets miss out on the power of ethnic and community journalism.
1029Newsonomics: 10 numbers on The New York Times’ 1 million digital-subscriber milestone
Digital subscribers are proving to be the bedrock of the Times’ business model going forward. How much more room is there for growth — and at what price points?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
St. Louis Globe-Democrat
Google
Apple
Sacramento Press
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Foursquare
Forbes
Sports Illustrated
Chicago Tribune
CBS News
Daily Kos
Wikipedia