What if the Twin Cities became a one newspaper metro?

Paperboy delivers the day’s news in Minneapolis. (Minnesota Historical Society)
“Minnesota billionaire Glen Taylor expects to close on his purchase of the Star Tribune by the end of next month, fulfilling a goal he has had for years,” writes MPR News business reporter Marty Moylan.

It may not be too long before Taylor has a chance to buy another newspaper: the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

A number of industry watchers say the paper’s owners may soon put it up for sale, hoping to exit the newspaper business.

Taylor said he’d probably take a look. But before he made an offer he’d need to know the financial condition of the Pioneer Press and the potential for the Twin Cities to support two daily newspapers.

But there are other factors to consider, said Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at the Poynter Institute.

“Assuming he were to buy it would he continue to operate it separately?” he said. “Would it be folded into the Star Tribune?”

Edmonds said there also could be anti-trust concerns arising from Taylor owning both papers. He said federal officials might block such as sale if it violates anti-trust laws enacted to prevent companies from obtaining a monopoly.

“Unfortunately for him or somebody in that position,” Edmonds said, “he can’t just call the Justice Department and ask, ‘Is this OK?'”

On the other hand, Edmonds points out even a dead newspaper has value – in its circulation and advertising lists, trucks, buildings and other assets.

If Taylor acquires the Star Tribune as expected, he could try to buy the Pioneer Press for its assets and shut it down, hoping to realize gains in circulation and ad revenue, Edmonds said.

Today’s Question: What if the Twin Cities became a one newspaper metro?

  • PaulJ

    If it is a famously good paper one would be enough: taking all sides, reprinting articles from other local papers, being tech savvy, doing voter education, and hiring some good Lois Lane types.

  • Dan L.

    Prior to purchasing a second paper, it would be wise to prove success with the first. First-class investigative work, balanced political coverage, intimate knowledge of local customs and fulfilling journalism’s pivotal role in democracy should be the combined standard of excellence in the newspaper business. While having a Minnesotan run the Star Tribune is positive, let’s hope it doesn’t go the way of the Timberwolves: perpetual mediocrity.

  • Jim G

    If Glen Taylor buys the Minneapolis paper and then proceeds to buy the Pioneer Press and fold it into the Star Tribune or liquidate its assets, he will most probably grow in wealth, influence, and power. On the other hand, a reduction in raw numbers of our news gathering journalists will hinder our ability to know what is actually going on in the Twin Cities. Our communities’ intellectual discourse monitored, filtered, and adjusted through the lens of one entity’s perspective will hasten the sunset of democracy. The rising sun on the horizon… oligarchy. It is not just a word,

  • Joe

    Would it be that great of a loss? With the digitization of media and its access, people are increadingly finding their own Pravda anyway.

  • dutchsays

    I live in outstate MN, Fergus Falls. Many of us around here see the Trib as little more than a liberal rag devoted to promoting the far leftist views of 0bama and his minions in national government, and in the DFL subsidiary of the left. At least the Pioneer Press occasionally prints information which the left successfully suppresses from being published in the Strib.
    If the PP is absorbed into the Strib, there goes any hope of finding a truthful and objective newspaper in Minnesota. It is not the fact that only conservatives have the funds to purchase instruments of information, or in the case of the Strib, Misinformation.

    • Joe

      Does that mean every time the Pioneer Press publishes something that the Star Tribune doesn’t it is the result of media suppression by the left? Is that also the case when a story appears in the Star Tribune and is not covered in the Pioneer Press?
      I’m still lost on the issue of media suppression.

    • Misinformation? That is a huge claim that shouldn’t be hard to back up if it is as deep as you assert.

      The three most recent headlines from the Strib are objective and the stories are as well:

      Jury hears homeowner shooting, telling woman ‘You’re dying’
      Archbishop Nienstedt’s testimony on clergy sex abuse made public
      Minnesota’s distracted driving crackdown snags 550 in 10 days

      Do you have examples to support your comment?

      • AndyBriebart

        How about the Leeland Yee story in San Fran. The California representative that was a darling of the Brady Campaign and anti-2nd Amendment groups. He was indicted on many counts of brokering deals selling AUTOMATIC firearms to MUSLIM TERRORIST groups based out of the Philippines.

        Not a peep out of twin cities media on this story. And when the national media finally gave it some press, they “forgot” to give any details of the Brady Campaign awards and the gun running to Muslim terrorists. He was indicted on other charges too.

        Even some national coverage felt it necessary to not publish what political party he belonged to.

        • Joe

          California politicians who are against the 2nd amendment are nothing new, look at Ronald Reagan!

          • Pearly

            He’s dead.

          • Jeff

            If he lived in Chicago his vote would count…oddly enough he’d be voting democrat in Cook County.

          • Joe

            If he were alive today he would look more like a Democrat than a Republican.

          • Jeff

            Yeah, sure, the guy who called libertarians the heart of the Republican party…you’re talking about that man being a Democrat? Nope, not buying it.

          • Joe

            Yeah, so did Barry Goldwater, and he wanted to KEEP it that way, and he looks more like today’s Democrat too.
            It’s a shame that it was Reagan who held the shotgun wedding of the Republican Party to the religious right, his folly is what’s tearing the Republican party apart.

          • Jeff

            Just give some examples, I’d be happy to listen…you seem to just repeat the same words without offering up evidence.

          • Joe

            He hated the ban on gays in the military, hated making abortion a political issue, and disliked the idea that free enterprise could have the ability to pollute to their heart’s content at the expense of others. I’m not seeing how he would exactly fit in with today’s GOP, but I’m more than happy to listen.

          • Jeff

            Mind providing sources for those positions? I agree with those viewpoints…but in reality it was a Democrat who created the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy if you remember. Abortion was made a federal issue through the Supreme Court and most libertarians/conservatives believe that it should be a state by state issue; it’s almost always liberals who turn it into a federal mandate. I don’t know any conservative who wants to see lead or mercury being polluted to unsafe levels…if you’re talking about CO2 (which simply wasn’t an issue during Reagan’s time) then you have a point because most people honestly don’t care about warmer temperatures here in Minnesota. As far as economic policies (you know, budgets, taxes, social programs and reforming them) the reason that government was created for in the first place, I’m sure Barry and Reagan would be perfectly in line with the Republicans of today.

          • Joe

            You understand that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell reversed the ban on gays in the military, right?

          • Jeff

            Yes, but it was later criticized by the gay community…address my other points instead of having a narrow focus on 1 minor detail of an overall point.

          • Joe

            What does the gay community later criticizing the policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell have to do with the fact that the ban on gays in the military was lifted under a Democrat? Totally lost here.
            How exactly did liberals “make” abortion a federal issue? Did liberals pass the laws restricting abortion that the Supreme Court later overturned? Must have been, the only people who believe in laws restricting God given Freedom are liberals. It must have been those liberals who passed DOMA too, “making” gay marriage a federal issue by passing a law they knew couldn’t pass Constitutional muster.
            Good thing Democrats aren’t liberals. Neoliberals, maybe, but neoliberals are conservative.

  • Larry

    If Taylor owns both and eliminates one the Twin Cities will end up with the equivalent of having only FAUX “News” on TV

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    That would be boring. I’m also disappointed that the Tribune might take a more conservative approach on its editorial board. I liked the way it was shaping up between the two papers.

  • David Carlson

    Try the following link. Who besides Glen Taylor might step in. Jeff Bezos, Berkshire Hathaway, Rupert Murdock, Glenn Beck? Any older brands still waiting? Minneapolis Journal. St. Paul Dispatch.

    http://stateofthemedia.org/media-ownership/newspapers/

  • James

    It depends.
    It could be great. The one paper might have the resources and economies of scale to serve Minnesota well and to be world class.
    It could be awful. We could end up with a single lame paper with near monopoly power…although no paper really has monopoly power, given the media choices we have today.
    If the Timberwolves are any indication of Taylor’s management skills outside his areas of true competence, it will be the latter.

  • AndyBriebart

    It’s funny watching the hand wringing from the other non-newspaper media in the Twin Cities over this. They for years have told us the Start Tribune was not a left leaning newspaper that carries the water for the DFL. Now, that there may be some “diversity”, that is, if you think center right opinion falls into your definition of diversity, oh, the media elites are getting nervous.

    • Joe

      It’s funny that people consider the DFL anything other than center right.

      • AndyBriebart

        Really?

        • Joe

          Maybe not REALLY funny, but it’s always amusing to hear people interchange things like liberal, left, and Democrat as if they are synonyms. Or conversely, Republican, conservative, and right.

    • lindblomeagles

      I guess I really never thought of the Star Tribune OR the Pioneer Press being liberal or conservative news media. As a matter of fact, I think Republicans paranoid about “a liberal media.” To me, the media does what MOST BUSINESSES DO, and that’s give their customers what they want after very careful, targeted and scientific market analysis. Reporters aren’t hired to write YOUR OPINION Andy. They are hired to SELL stories, and the best stories are the ones that elicit some kind of reaction from readers: anger, fear, despair, smiles, empathy, etc. If you want YOUR OPINION to be the news, then I think you better check into community cable TV OR, here’s a thought, start your own nonprofit paper.

  • cruz

    …well democracy 101 says it would be bad for truth, bad for democracy and bad for pretty much everything, as mediocre as both the strib and press are its better having two mediocre papers than one or none

  • Lisa

    News is going on-line. I think it would be wise to roll them into one before they both go belly up. This is where one owner of both would come in handy. Yes, the cities have different personalities, but make it easy to find what you want in one paper. It would be good for everyone & maybe promote more love between the two cities!!

  • lindblomeagles

    In a perfect world, the Twin Cities would be one city, thereby decreasing the need to double up public money for infrastructure needs, but that topic is best kept for another day. Sources, and my OWN news behavior, tell me that there just isn’t enough local news stories, advertisers, or readers to have two, and quite possibly one, newspaper. The national cable and local corporations, since I was a child, have quadrupled the number of stations and times of the da to provide news coverage. Why read the morning paper, when, for example, Fox, KSTP, KARE, and WCCO start bright and early 5:00 a.m. to at least 8:00 a.m. with the news. CNN, ESPN, Fox, MSNBC, and others provide more morning news. You can see how this adds up when lunch, rush hour, and 10:00 have MORE TELEVISED NEWS COVERAGE. And if you can’t read or watch, there’s the Internet. Moreover, local newspaper stories just haven’t varied much from political scandal, local murder, infringed upon citizen or business owner, weather, and sports. Honestly, I don’t know how people do it — 24 hour a day tragedy, corruption, storms, and athletics. There is more to life than reading, watching, or hearing about some one else’s.

    • ForrestalMN

      It’s a job to stay informed, I know.

    • Bread and Circuses

      It’s hard to find news on the television news. In the morning you get mostly weather, traffic, celebrity gossip, weather, traffic, sports, weather, traffic, a local event, weather, traffic, the same celebrity gossip or a high profile ridiculous national court case, weather, traffic, ad nauseum. Almost the same for the evening news minus the traffic, heavy on the sports with an additional celebrity meltdown for flavor.

      That’s not news. It’s entertainment.

      • lindblomeagles

        Right, the news is becoming the sitcom, reality TV show, and athletic channel.

  • ptoadstool

    It’s hard to believe there are enough subscribers to actual paper editions to keep even one newspaper alive. This is a bad investment – many of the assets are already obsolete. Even the Sunday edition of the Strib – the only one we get (for the coupons), is almost more trouble to fetch off the sidewalk, work our way through, and finally gather for recycling. The plastic bag at least gets used for dog waste. Even on Sundays we end up reading most of it online, a subscription that is actually worth something.

  • JSW

    Print media is so eighth century. My opinion, of course.
    Anyone buying a print news media is sure betting on a blind, three legged horse. I can’t remember the last time I actually read a newspaper, let alone consider paying the exorbitant asking price.

    • ForrestalMN

      I buy two print newspapers. I buy the Strib because I care about supporting local journalism. Newspapers aren’t going away just yet.

  • Hafften

    I’m a transplanted Twin Citian in the Fort Worth area. Here in the DFW “Metroplex,” our three major cities are distinct. Dallas and Ft. Worth each have their own newspaper (not sure about Arlington). There is greater distance between the cities, and their cultures are different. Since living here, I think often of the Minneapolis/St. Paul dynamic. I think it’s healthier and happier up there. Each community has its own culture, and that is reflected by the two papers. When I move home, I’d like there to still be two papers. OTOH, a melding would definitely work better there than here in the DFW. These cities are not friendly enough to make it work.

  • Jeff

    I don’t know if “newspapers” are necessary in today’s world, what I’d really like to see is a local news focused website for the twin cities with the ability to allow for direct interaction. The Star Tribune has decent articles but it has that pay wall which discourages me from using it and the interaction is minimal at best (with very biased moderators). The Pioneer Press has an interesting model with a free website but the news stories/commentaries are few and far between; on top of that their interactivity leaves much to be desired. Also, it would be fantastic to have a local news outlet without a slant…MPR does an okay job but they don’t have enough articles (opinion/sports, etc.) or interaction with the articles to really compete with the newspapers, oh and they do have a slant to the left as well.

  • Fidlft

    Don’t really see what the hubbub is about. The shrinking sources of “Newspapers” began in the early 60’s as the Print (only option) papers began combining or going out of business. And — for those on the internet — the news sources are truly boundless. As a former resident of the Twin Cities, I’ve totally stopped reading either paper (on line or otherwise) preferring sources that have the best potential of being somewhat neutral. For me, MPR and NPR are at least not beholden to corporate control. And, sources outside the US offer at least the potential of learning our actions are perceived by others. And checking out the same article from various US sources is another way to seek the middle ground of events, both local, national and international.

  • Saint Paul Guy

    If we had one newspaper with great coverage of both sides of the river, I think it would help in moving metro forward and have more interconnected thinking and brand. It could be done in a way that doesn’t detract from what’s good about two cities.

  • NewspaperGuy

    A one newspaper town might be just what saves newspapers in the Twin Cities. That Mr. Taylor has a lot of money to burn – and he will burn a lot of it to keep them afloat – is about the only thing that can save print news in that market. It is increasingly clear that one has to separate the “business” from the “news business” to survive. If he can do it, partner with Twin Cities Public Television and make the merged papers a non-profit entity that can take donations.

    • Joe

      Who cares if the paper itself is non-profit? It can have an owner that has many other ventures that generate profit to make up for that “loss” of getting total control of a media market like that.
      The use of the word non-profit to imply an absolute good that shouldn’t be questioned is one of the greatest marketing farces of our time.
      NPR cracks me up too, I like how back when there were stories about safety concerns by the FDA about unregulated stimulant mixtures like Five Hour Energy they would follow the news bit with a light-hearted advertisement for Five Hour Energy, which at the time I recall was available in pink lemonade, at least per that fine public service announcement.

  • Chris Rathbun

    What’s a newspaper?

  • Pup

    The Star Tribune seems intent on killing itself, with it’s shrinking local coverage, silly paywall, and awful comment function that attracts legions of trolls. It’s sad, but I don’t see the value of having two papers in this town anymore and don’t expect to see it five to ten years from now.