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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

May 14, 2007 / Toby Dayton

New York Times Slams Star Tribune & Avista Capital

The New York Times weighed in on the recent layoffs at the Star Tribune in an article on the front page of the business section today  by David Carr. Though centered around the protest rally that the paper’s employees staged on the day the cuts were announced, the piece heavily criticizes publisher Par Ridder and the Star Tribune’s new owners, Avista Capital, for making drastic cuts they promised employees and the community they wouldn’t be making upon assuming control. In commenting on what type of operators Avista and Ridder have been since taking over, Carr writes, “So far, not so good.” One of Avista’s principals, OhSang Kwon is quoted as saying that problems they have encountered at the paper and the near-term and medium-term prospects are, “more negative than what we expected.” I cannot possibly imagine investing over $500 million in a company and being surprised so early in the game by what has occurred. So either they are blatantly lying, or their due diligence on the company and the industry as a whole were sorely lacking. In either case, the turn of events doesn’t bode well for the Twin Cities and the quality of its daily paper.

Carr also delves into the finer points of the lawsuit filed by the St. Paul Pioneer Press alleging that the Star Tribune’s new publisher, Par Ridder, who jumped across the river from the Pioneer Press, violated a non-compete agreement and stole sensitive information while still employed at the Pioneer Press. It’s a pretty scathing article, as one who has watched the whole saga unfold over the past few months might expect. In commenting on the dire circumstances surrounding mid-sized daily newspapers in general, and the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press in particular, Carr states, “It is as if two men, hanging off the cliff by the fingernails of one hand, decided to have a knife fight with the other hand.” I’ll keep my money on both men eventually tumbling off into the abyss.

[tags]New York Times, David Carr, Star Tribune Layoffs, Par Ridder, Non-Compete Agreements, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Avista Capital, OhSang Kwon, Death of Newspapers, Decline of Daily Newspapers, Publishing, Media, Dying Industries[/tags]