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Media chain’s good profits aren’t enough

Rebecca Nappi The Spokesman-Review

Knight Ridder, a newspaper chain that publishes 32 newspapers nationwide, employs 18,000 people. The chain is for sale because investors are not satisfied with profits, which were once obscene but are now just better than good. The first round of bids is due Friday.

Some of the country’s best writing comes from Knight Ridder, a chain known for excellent journalists working at quality newspapers. This newspaper regularly runs stories from Knight Ridder.

Monday I received insider information about the pending sale from There, it was revealed that Google and Halliburton will both bid on Knight Ridder. I also uncovered potential business plans from each company. Both, for instance, will retain the word Knight because it connotes valor.

Knight Google would allow the uber Internet search engine to officially acknowledge that its most reliable information is generated by daily newspapers.

Monday I typed into Google the words “Knight Ridder, sale of.” Eight of the top 10 sources for my inquiry came from newspapers. The first source, from Knight Ridder-owned Philadelphia Daily News, included this about the pending sale: “Newspaper analyst Douglas Arthur speculated that any potential buyer would likely shut down the Philadelphia Daily News.”

Google understands the importance of local reporting. If Google buys Knight Ridder, it inherits a country full of local reporters. Google, however, intends to lay off 10,000 journalists, because they only need the youngest and hippest. So they will institute a required test for those journalists who wish to make the transition to Knight Google.

Knight Ridder has long used psychological tests to weed out lazy and/or crazy journalists. The Knight Google test would be different. Some sample questions:

A) For relaxation at work, do you play hacky sack or look up your 401 (k) earnings report?

B) White stripes are an important part of any road trip. Explain what this means to you.

C) Paul or John? Micky or Davy? Patty or Cathy? If you don’t understand this question, skip to D.

D) TY 4 U. IMO, WD. BTW, PPL, PWB. If you are unable to understand these letters, return to C for this bonus question: Ginger or Mary Ann?

Knight Halliburton. The Houston-based multinational corporation, with strong ties to Vice President Dick Cheney, will bid on Knight Ridder in an attempt to counter negative reporting on big business.

Halliburton intends to lay off 15,000 people. First on the chopping block: the journalists who work in Knight Ridder’s Washington, D.C., bureau, because they are so out of touch with the real America.

Knight Halliburton will reduce each newspaper’s business desk to two journalists – an editor and an intern. The business editors will be Halliburton vice presidents who wrote poetry in high school and did papers in business school on the positive ramifications of the line “greed is good” from the 1987 movie “Wall Street.”

The interns will come from Sierra Leone, Africa, via Iraq. Halliburton subsidiary KBR subcontracted with a company that hires African women and men to provide food service for U.S. military folks in Iraq.

They work six days a week, 12 hours a day and are paid 50 cents an hour, according to a United Press International report. They have no sick leave. If they threaten to strike, they are immediately sent back to Africa.

The Sierra Leone interns will be paid minimum wage in Knight Halliburton newsrooms. Their editors will boast: “It would be like paying them $1 million a year in their country!”

Friday, we’ll learn how many other companies will enter the bidding battle for Knight Ridder. Trust me, no company will bid on Knight Ridder hoping to make it better than good in the journalistic sense.

It’s a new media world, readers. Greed is not just good. Greed is everything.

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