Posts Tagged ‘Knight Ridder’

At 6:38 p.m. on Friday, The Star’s web site, kansascity.com, posted a headline that said, “Sprint-Nextel merger among the nation’s worst, Bloomberg says.”

Well, the headline certainly piqued my interest, so I clicked on the headline to see the story. 

That’s where things got more interesting. The story, written by The Star’s Mark Davis, was about a Bloomberg evaluation of bad deals, based on a benchmark index that Bloomberg had formulated.  

As the headline suggested, Davis led his story with the Sprint-Nextel deal, saying it was the third worst deal out of 100 that Bloomberg had ranked.

But Davis waited until the fourth — and second-to-last paragraph — to unveil a surprise. Which deal do you think ranked at the top of Bloomberg’s list? What was the worst merger or acquisition among the entire 100? Give up? Well, it was none other than McClatchy’s $4.1 billion purchase of Knight Ridder in 2006.

The Star, of course, is one of the papers that McClatchy obtained in that infamous transaction.

Odd, then, isn’t it, that Davis and Star editors chose to highlight the Sprint-Nextel merger when the very worst deal was, literally, right under their noses? I’m sure that Star editors would rationalize the leapfrogging act by arguing that Sprint is locally based and has far more employees in this area than McClatchy. 

That’s true, but The Star is no small employer; has at least as high a profile locally as Sprint; and…well, No. 1 means No. 1, right? 

The Star could have gone a long way toward presenting an intellectually honest account by simply changing the headline to say, “Sprint-Nextel, McClatchy-Knight Ridder deals among the nation’s worst, Bloomberg says.” It could have kept the story exactly as it was, even while fudging on the rankings. Instead, The Star took the low road.

There’s a saying in the news business for what Davis did. It’s called “burying your lead.” What that means is that the biggest, most interesting news is down low in a story, rather than at the top, where it should be.

And that’s just what Davis and Star editors did. They took the biggest and hardest kick at Sprint — a more convenient target — and gave their parent company the equivalent of a slap on the wrist.

Here’s what Bloomberg’s Zachary R. Mider said in his initial story, which Bloomberg posted on Thursday and which spawned Davis’ story:

“McClatchy’s purchase of the Knight Ridder Inc. newspaper chain, for $4.1 billion in 2006, ranked the worst of the 100 on Bloomberg’s list, with McClatchy shares underperforming the Bloomberg Advertising Age AdMarket 50 Index by 93 percentage points. Sacramento, California-based McClatchy borrowed cash to buy the chain as newspaper real-estate advertising plunged.”

All I can say is shame on you, KC Star, shame on you for playing a journalistic shell game.

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