Owner visits paper … gush! gush! gush!

On April 18, 2006, The Telegraph of Macon, Ga., reported (probably breathlessly) that:

Gary Pruitt, chief executive officer of The McClatchy Co., was in Macon Tuesday to talk to employees while on a whirlwind tour of the 20 papers the company expects to retain as part of its bid for the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain.

Sacramento, Calif.-based McClatchy bid for Knight Ridder Inc.'s 32 daily newspapers in mid-March and promptly said it would put 12 of the papers up for sale. The Telegraph is not among those McClatchy has said it will sell.

"We firmly believe that good journalism is good business," Pruitt told employees. "We have a long-term view. ... We've got to get better every year."

Pruitt is also visiting Columbus and Columbia, S.C., newspapers today. Wednesday, he's scheduled to visit papers in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Biloxi, Miss. and Bradenton, Fla. Thursday, he heads to Lexington, Ky., Belleville, Ill. and Wichita, Kan.

"We call this the 'tell the truth and run tour,'" he said during a Telegraph manager's meeting.

Following regulatory approval, the newspaper purchase is expected to close this summer.

Note the BS about "we firmly believe that good journalism is good business.” Sure . . . sure; the finest of lip service.

Pruitt should have fired the paper’s Editor – on the spot – for running sucking-up-to-the-boss puffery as news. It must have been slugged: “Must Carry.”

Good journalism? Ugh!

The following day, April 19, 2006, the McClatchy-owned Ledger-Enquirer of Columbus, Ga., reported:

Newspapers are far from dead. They're simply adjusting, retooling and expanding their focus beyond the printed page and into the vast cyberworld.

And change is not only inevitable, but expected. However, local decisions about news coverage and how stories are played will continue to be made locally.

Those were the prime points made Tuesday by Gary Pruitt, chairman and chief executive officer of The McClatchy Company, in a conference room packed with employees of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

As a noted Canadian once said: Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns the printing press. The Ledger-Enquirer’s puffery is shameless and prime “owner chill.” This kind of stuff is killing small-paper credibility. But it does buff the CEO’s ego.

The McClatchy web site said, as of this writing: “The McClatchy Company is a leading newspaper and Internet publisher dedicated to the values of quality journalism . . . .”

Quality? Ugh!