So says Peter Galuszka at Style Weekly, who lays out a deeply sobering picture of the financial woes of Media General.
Confronting loan deadlines, incrementally tougher terms and talk of bankruptcy, the company recently begged for a short-term bridge loan. Shortly afterward it formally announced that it’s putting all of its newspapers, including the Times-Dispatch, on the block.
That’s not much of a surprise, actually. Particularly in the case of the News & Messenger, one has to wonder how such a badly-run outfit has managed to survive for as long as it has.
The local news market isn’t nearly as bad as Media General makes it look. People are interested in what’s going on in their community, they want information about local government, public safety issues in their neighborhoods, and to follow what’s happening with the High School football team. Advertisers want opportunities to target their marketing to local audiences. Done right, a local news outfit should be quite successful, and there are plenty of operations out there proving that potential today.
The News & Messenger isn’t proving that at all. There’s scant local news in it beyond press releases re-edited into depressingly unsubstantial articles, and fluffed with non-local content readers can find elsewhere in a more meaty package. If this newspaper was food, it would be like Hamburger Helper with the hamburger removed as a cost-saving measure.
If Media General sells their Virginia newspaper operations in one block to some remote outfit like Halifax, I hope there will be an opportunity for some local folks to snap it up at fire-sale prices and reinvent this dinosaur. It could be great, if lead by someone with actual vision and some bare modicum of passion.
H/T: Bearing Drift
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