Fresno Bee publisher McClatchy files for bankruptcy, aims to speed move to digital

February 07 2021 03:30 pm

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Early Thursday morning, McClatchy, the publisher of dozens of newspapers across the country, including the Fresno Bee, announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection, ending 163 years of family control.

In the last couple of years, it’s tried to expand digitally, but it hasn’t been enough.

Jim Boren is the Fresno Bee’s former executive editor. He said the news didn’t come as a surprise.

“It was a shock that it happened, but it wasn’t a surprise,” Boren said. “I knew that the business model for newspapers has been broken for a long time.

McClatchy operates 30 different newsrooms across the nation that also include the Miami Herald and the Kansas City Star.

In a statement from the Fresno Bee’s executive editor, Joseph Kieta said:

“The Fresno Bee is operating as usual today. We remain fully focused on producing independent local journalism that serves the central San Joaquin Valley. Nothing about the news today changes our focus or mission. We appreciate the continued support of our readers and our community.”

The Fresno Bee stopped printing a Saturday edition weeks ago.

“I suspect if the Fresno Bee were founded today, it wouldn’t even consider a printing press. Everybody would be digital,” Boren said.

With a decrease in circulation and with McClatchy’s loss in print advertisers, this move could help relieve its debts.

“McClatchy’s challenge has been the business model when you lose 80 percent of your advertising revenue over a period of time because the shift in people’s buying habits,” Boren said.

Boren is also the executive director of institute for media and public trust at Fresno State. He said it’s essential the new generation evolve with journalism

“It’s very important, but it’s natural to them,” he said. “They don’t see the print journalism anymore, they’re digital from the start, and that’s a really good thing.

Fresno State’s student newspaper The Collegian’s adviser Tim Drachlis said the newspaper has been stressing the importance of digital journalism.

“What they’ve done in the last couple of years at the Collegian is much more of an emphasis on the digital product, in other words making sure the website is updated, making sure the stories are posted even before they go into the paper,” Drachlis said.

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