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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Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate.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:
July 6, 2020 / Ken Doctor
Newsonomics: There’s no Knight in shining armor coming to rescue McClatchy — The bids are in, and the bankruptcy auction is now on. Who will the board of newspaper company McClatchy choose as its new owner? It faces a July 8 court-imposed deadline to pick. All lips are sealed, publicly, but numer...
July 1, 2020 / Joshua Benton
Tribune can buy more time by selling more control to Alden Global Capital — We’ve been telling you for months now that June 30 was going to be a big day for American newspapers. That was the day that Tribune Publishing — owner of big dailies in Chicago, Baltimore, New York, Orlando, Hart...
June 10, 2020 / Hanaa' Tameez
Six McClatchy newspapers and its DC bureau will vacate their offices, leaving journalists working remotely until at least 2021 — Eventually, whenever coronavirus cases in Florida steadily decrease (not anytime soon, it appears) and journalists start to return to their newsrooms, the folks at the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald will continue to wo...
May 6, 2020 / Ken Doctor
Newsonomics: How will the pandemic panic reshape the local news industry? — McClatchy’s bankruptcy is barreling to a conclusion. Tribune’s quietly trimming its board to prepare for a merger. Google and Facebook face unprecedented calls to pay up on at least three continents. And all ...
April 21, 2020 / Hanaa' Tameez
McClatchy just acquired the assets of a Colorado nonprofit news outlet and will launch a new iteration — Pandemic schmandemic. For Mandy Jenkins, the current uncertainty is as good a time as any to launch a local news site. This morning, McClatchy announced that it’s acquired all the assets of the Longmont Observer, a...

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