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Another Star Tribune publisher possibility

We’re still in the speculation zone, though this name came via a non-authoritative source with good industry connections:

Chuck Goodrich, senior vice-president and publisher, GateHouse Media New England.

The source did not present Goodrich as the choice, just a name. But it’s an interesting one, for several reasons.

Goodrich currently works for Gatehouse CEO Michael Reed, one of four members of the Strib’s new board of directors. Even better, according to his LinkedIn bio, Goodrich is a former project manager at Texas-based director marketer Harte-Hanks — where another new Strib board member, Bill Farley, is on the board of directors.

Current Strib publisher Chris Harte is also on the Harte-Hanks board; his family started the business.

The source says Goodrich has been to Minnesota recently, perhaps accompanying Reed, who Strib staffers have seen in the newsroom in recent days. If all this is right, it’s still possible Goodrich is merely advising Reed, rather than taking over.

But if my single-source chain of causality proves out, would the Strib represent a promotion for Goodrich? Of course, lots comes down to the paycheck, but on paper, the job is and isn’t a step up.

GateHouse New England is a collection of eight small dailies (combined weekday circulation 153,000; the biggest the Quincy Patriot Ledger), several dozen weeklies (circulation: 497,000), three pennysavers and 16 specialty titles (combined circ: 722,000).

The Strib — with more than 300,000 daily subscribers and 500,000 on Sundays — is a vastly more prominent title than anything on the GHNE list, though it has fewer readers overall. The Strib, for now a stand-alone title, is poles apart from the Massachusetts assemblage. However, GHNE’s obvious “local, local, local” focus and suburban/exurban penetration gives Goodrich experience in a market segment the Strib has lusted after.

On the flip, GateHouse may be headed toward bankruptcy, so Goodrich may be clambering aboard a temporarily more stable ship. Of course, we’re not even sure who the long-term creditors of the Strib will be, since its debt trades on the open market. And despite creditor-spokesman Bradley Pattelli’s claim that his group may own the paper for years, it is still being shopped. That uncertainty may dissuade any potential leader, but we should know soon enough.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 09/25/2009 - 06:39 am.

    The Vanity Fair piece on Pinch Sulzberger threw off what I thought was an interesting observation with respect to the New York Times. The article said that really talented business types don’t work for newspapers, or at least don’t work for the Times because they would tend to compete with and perhaps overshadow the editorial side. Basically, they don’t want business guys involved in anything to do with editorial. I understand and appreciate the rationale for this, and it made sense when the Times was a great and thriving newspaper. But I wonder if it makes quite as much sense now that the Times while still a great newspaper, might be a dying newspaper.

    I wonder if a similar dynamic is at work with the Strib. They are bringing in newspaper guys with some different perspectives, who might nibble around the edges of their problems, perhaps slowing the decline, but not really stopping it. Maybe it time to bet the paper’s very questionable future by bringing someone in with a radical new approach, whatever that might be.

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