The McClatchy Company is a publicly traded American publishing company based in Sacramento, California. It operates 29 daily newspapers in 14 states and has an average weekday circulation of 1.6 million and Sunday circulation of 2.4 million. In 2006, it purchased Knight Ridder, which at the time was the second-largest newspaper company in the United States (Gannett was and remains the largest). In addition to its daily newspapers, McClatchy also operates several websites and community papers.
For most of its history, the company was focused on the newspaper business in California's Sacramento Valley and San Joaquin Valley. It acquired its first out-of-state newspapers in 1979 and, through numerous subsequent acquisitions, has grown into a nationwide company in the U.S. In its first moves outside its home state, McClatchy bought the Anchorage Daily News in Anchorage, Alaska, and the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Washington.
McClatchy acquired then-ABC-affiliate KOVR from Metromedia in 1963. The company's own Modesto Bee reported the sale of the station. It was sold to The Outlet Company in 1978 and today exists as a CBS owned-and-operated station.
In 1990, McClatchy acquired three dailies in South Carolina: The Herald in Rock Hill, The Island Packet in Hilton Head, and The Beaufort Gazette of Beaufort. In 1995, it acquired The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina, and in 1998, it bought the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.
The company's biggest acquisition occurred on June 27, 2006 when McClatchy purchased Knight Ridder. Because McClatchy was so much smaller than Knight Ridder at the time, one observer equated the deal as "a dolphin swallowing a small whale." The purchase price of $40 and 0.5118 shares of McClatchy Class A stock per share was valued in total at about $4 billion in cash and stock. The company also assumed $2 billion in debt. This purchase added 20 newspapers to the company stable and the immediate sale (over the next five weeks) of 12 publications including the St. Paul Pioneer Press, San Jose Mercury News and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Those sales were completed on Aug. 2, 2006
In July 2008, McClatchy sold the company's digital advertising network, "Real Cities" to a Chicago-based marketing firm named Centro. The "Real Cities" network was liquidated by Centro the following month.
The company also owns a portfolio of digital assets, including 15.0% of CareerBuilder, LLC, which operates CareerBuilder.com; 25.6% of Classified Ventures, LLC, a company that offers classified websites, such as the auto website Cars.com; and 33.3% of HomeFinder, LLC, which operates the online real estate website HomeFinder.com. McClatchy also owns 49.5% of the voting stock and 70.6% of the nonvoting stock of The Seattle Times Company.
As of 2008, the company had about 14,000 employees. The company has two classes of stock, allowing the founding McClatchy family to retain control. In the Knight Ridder purchase, for example, McClatchy shareholders did not need to act in approving the purchase because the family had already voted their shares in favor.
Editor and Publisher reported in October 2006 that McClatchy revenue ending August 2006 was down over one percent from August 2005. Between the announced purchase of Knight Ridder in March 2006 and late 2009, the stock value of McClatchy (MNI) declined significantly. On December 18, 2008, McClatchy common stock fell below $1 per share. The market capitalization of the company fell below $100 million, down over 98% since the purchase of Knight Ridder in early 2006. In 2010-2011 the stock has recovered off of its low, but is still down over 90% from the peak.
McClatchy has an Internet subsidiary, McClatchy Interactive (formerly known as Nando Media), which provides business support and material for Internet media (part of the News & Observer purchase). Other operations include Newsprint Ventures Inc., a consortium that operates the Ponderay newsprint mill near Spokane, Washington.
McClatchy also inherited a partnership with the Tribune Company in the news service Knight Ridder-Tribune Information Services, now McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), when it acquired Knight Ridder.
IF Stone Medal
In 2008, McClatchy's bureau chief in Washington, D.C., John Walcott, was the first recipient of the IF Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence, awarded by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism. In accepting the award, Walcott commented on McClatchy's reporting during the period preceding the Iraq War:
Why, in a nutshell, was our reporting different from so much other reporting? One important reason was that we sought out the dissidents, and we listened to them, instead of serving as stenographers to high-ranking [Bush administration] officials and Iraqi exiles.
McClatchy journalists have also won 9 Pulitzer prizes in their 159-year history.
On August 4, 2013, McClatchy Newspapers, citing anonymous sources, reported on conversations between Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the head of Al Qaeda, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, discussing an alleged imminent terrorist attack. Two days previously, The New York Times had agreed to withhold the identities of the Al Qaeda leaders after US intelligence officials claimed the information could jeopardize their operations. Government analysts and officials interviewed by the Times said the impact of this disclosure caused more immediate damage to American counterterrorism efforts than the thousands of classified documents disclosed by Edward Snowden due to a sharp drop in the terrorists’ use of a major communications channel that the authorities were monitoring. Subsequently, officials have been searching for new ways to monitor communications among Al Qaeda’s leaders and operatives.
Note: (*) - Indicates newspaper acquired in 2006 Knight Ridder purchase.
- The Beaufort Gazette (Beaufort, South Carolina)
- Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Illinois)*
- The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington)*
- The Bradenton Herald (Bradenton, Florida)*
- Centre Daily Times (State College, Pennsylvania)*
- The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina)*
- Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Georgia)*
- The Fresno Bee (Fresno, California)
- The Herald (Rock Hill) (Rock Hill, South Carolina)
- The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)*
- The Island Packet (Hilton Head, South Carolina)
- The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri)*
- Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Kentucky)*
- Merced Sun-Star (Merced, California)
- The Miami Herald (Miami, Florida)*
- El Nuevo Herald (Miami, Florida)*
- The Modesto Bee (Modesto, California)
- The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina)
- The Olathe News (Olathe, Kansas)*
- The Olympian (Olympia, Washington)*
- The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California)
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas)*
- The State (Columbia, South Carolina)*
- Sun Herald (Biloxi, Mississippi)*
- Sun News (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)*
- The News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington)*
- The Telegraph (Macon)* (Macon, Georgia)
- The San Luis Obispo Tribune (San Luis Obispo, California)*
- Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Washington)
- Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kansas)
Dailies acquired in Knight Ridder purchase and sold
- Aberdeen American News (Aberdeen, South Dakota) (Completed June 27, 2006)
- Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) (Completed Aug. 2, 2006)
- The Herald (Monterey, California) (Completed Aug. 2, 2006)
- San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, California) (Completed Aug. 2, 2006)
- Fort Wayne News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana) (Completed June 27, 2006)
- Philadelphia Daily News (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) (Completed June 29, 2006)
- The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) (Completed June 29, 2006)
- Saint Paul Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minnesota) (Completed Aug. 2, 2006)
- Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, California) (Completed Aug. 2, 2006)
- Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota) (Completed June 27, 2006)
- Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks, North Dakota) (Completed June 27, 2006)
- Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) (Completed Aug. 2, 2006)