That same month, McClatchy quickly pawned the Beacon off on Black Press for $165 million. The Canadian company’s owner, David Black, assured staffers that he cared about journalism, wouldn’t mess with their union, and wasn’t going to lay anyone off. Some breathed a sigh of relief. Others knew better. “We knew more layoffs were coming,” Wilson says.
A few weeks later, Black finally must have taken a good look at the books “and said, ‘Oh, shit!,'” Wilson believes.
On August 22, Black laid off 40 staffers — almost a quarter of the newsroom.
So the paper had to be losing money by the bucketful, right?
Despite the loss of its cash cow, Rita Kelly Madick, the paper’s spokeswoman, admits that the Beacon is still profitable. As Knight Ridder was closing, the paper was still boasting profit margins exceeding 20 percent, among the best performances in the chain.
“You almost forget that we’re actually profitable,” says a reporter who was laid off. “David Black makes it sound like all we’re doing is losing money.”
Maybe USA Today can get right on this, once they’re done castigating bloggers for not doing enough to promote “Snakes on a Plane.”