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Key links:
Primary website:
mcclatchy.com
Primary Twitter:
@McClatchyCo

Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

The McClatchy Company is the nation’s third-largest newspaper company, with 29 daily newspapers including the Kansas City Star, the Sacramento Bee, and the Miami Herald.

McClatchy is a publicly traded company based in Sacramento, Calif., where its flagship paper, the Sacramento Bee, was founded in 1857. The company was owned by the McClatchy family until 1989.

The company is known for the quality of its national and international reporting. Knight Ridder’s Washington bureau, which merged with McClatchy’s in 2006, has received praise and awards for its reporting in the runup to the Iraq War. The company also runs five foreign bureaus, sharing expenses with the Christian Science Monitor.

McClatchy bought the larger Knight Ridder chain of newspapers in 2006, selling off 12 of those newspapers shortly after the purchase, including the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Several months later, McClatchy sold the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which it had owned since 1998. The company sold the Anchorage Daily News to the local journalism website Alaska Dispatch in 2014.

McClatchy’s purchase of Knight Ridder was initially welcomed, as the company had developed a good reputation among corporate newspaper publishers. But the purchase overwhelmed McClatchy with debt, leading the company to write off much of the sale costs, cut thousands of jobs, and face the threat of stock delisting.

The company’s stock price plunged to pennies on the dollar in 2009 but began to recover thereafter, stringing together four straight quarters of profitability through early 2010. McClatchy leads the newspaper industry in online traffic growth and percentage of total revenue derived from its websites, but it also carried $1.9 billion in long-term debt as of 2010. It also reported a loss in the first quarter of 2012. By later that year, its pension plan was reportedly underfunded by $383 million.

McClatchy announced in May 2012 that it would begin testing online paid-content plans in partnership with Press+, hinting at a model built around multiplatform subscription packages. The company planned to pilot paywalls at five papers in the third quarter of 2012 and spread them to the rest of its papers by the end of the year. One of its first major paywalls was unveiled at the Sacramento Bee in September 2012. McClatchy reported 22,000 digital subscribers across its company in April 2013 and $25 million in new revenue through the program in May 2013.

In February 2011, the company announced plans to make substantial cuts after further declines in overall ad revenue, even as online ad sales climbed slightly higher than print ads.

Peers, allies, & competitors:
Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
Sept. 17, 2018 / Ken Doctor
Newsonomics: Could a McClatchy-Tronc merger help local newspapers transition to digital? — Could McClatchy unexpectedly join Gannett and GateHouse as survivors in the game of the American daily newspaper consolidation? Could California become a new epicenter of the American local newspaper business? Could Patr...
Aug. 30, 2018 / Ken Doctor
Newsonomics: The tariffs are gone, but the burden of print weighs heavier and heavier — The newspaper tariffs are dead. How big a difference will that make to those whose businesses still depends on dead trees? On Wednesday, the International Trade Commission —like numerous judicial or regulatory bodies b...
July 19, 2018 / Heather Bryant
The universe of people trying to deceive journalists keeps expanding, and newsrooms aren’t ready — Robyn Tomlin has led newsrooms in New York, Texas and North Carolina over the past two decades, and amid a torrent of change she’s noticed a constant. The universe of people trying to deceive journalists keeps expandin...
July 3, 2018 / Shan Wang
Thanks to California, a news site (or other business) now has to let you cancel your subscription online — Here’s a script you’re surely familiar with if you’ve ever tried to cancel a subscription to, well, anything: FADE IN: INT. LIVING ROOM – DAY On a couch sits CUSTOMER, alcoholic beverage in one ha...
June 25, 2018 / Marlee Baldridge
With new beats and sprints, The Sacramento Bee aims to hit 60,000 digital subs — The math is fairly simple: The Sacramento Bee is trying to become completely sustained by digital subscriptions in the next few years. To do that, it needs 60,000 subscribers. Right now, it has 15,000. Lauren Gustus, McC...

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Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: April 10, 2014.
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