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Archive for March, 2009

What’s Next for MNI Uptown?

Well, if other McClatchy outlets are any guide, after job cuts on the spending side, we’ll get further stabs at cost reductions in the form of fewer “neighbors” sections and a hike in the newsstand price.

Two things, though. The Charlotte Weekly seems to be going great gangbusters at the precise moment Creative Loafing awaits word from a Florida bankruptcy judge on the alt-weekly chain’s future. At the extreme the local Loafing goes poof, leaving the Weekly to scoop all the ads that are not for sex toys. McClatchy just sits and spins now that its Eye product is gone.

Also worth noting that Loafing’s hammerlock on the bar-nite spot biz is basically what doomed the Charlotte edition of The Rhino Times. The Gboro parent feasts on such rich fare week after week, printing a thick book. This means that there should always enough ad fare out of this sector to support a CLT weekly, but who and what it might be could be subject to change.

Update: The bankruptcy judge gave CL’s leadership a few more months to pull things together, actually citing Web traffic numbers as a positive sign. I’m pretty sure taking Web metrics into evidence is the Final Sign of End Times. But now it is official: Ben Eason is a Web guru.

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Your Kinda OpenBook.gov from Bev

Interesting one-stop shop for where state money is flowing these days, but with far too many missing addresses for the grant recipients. Addresses help you nail down relationships between groups and individuals and we all know relationships make the world go round.

Still, interesting to see that United Family Services, Inc. evidently gave back $1.2m. in “foreclosure mitigation” funds the group received to use in Mecklenburg County. I do not know how else to read that.

As for state contracts with local firms, who knew so much money was in paper and paper products? It looks like $16m. last year alone.

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Wray Ward Loves Tainted Money

The Locker Room alerts me to the fact that QC PR bigfoot Wray Ward evidently has no problem cashing checks from the North Carolina “education” lotto.

Why would any self-respecting operation throw in with an outfit charged with duping the economically illiterate and the working poor? A lotto that sprang from the loins of Jim Black’s dirty cash-sack deals in men’s rooms across the Piedmont?

Stay classy, Wray Ward. I’m certain all your other clients appreciate the association with a stain on the state’s civic life.

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Lawyers Working on the Public Dime

Something of a theme.

First, news that the state of North Carolina wound up routing gas-tax money to to pay for lawyers’ booze, snacks, and first-class airfare. Don’t ask. Details here.

Then we have the Uptown paper getting half-way to the truth of all the legal bills CMS has been running up of late, including the cover-story that the $300K investigation into HS sports eligibility really only cost $100K.

Still no word, however, on just how big a separation package departed CMS legal counsel Regina Bartholomew received.

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BofA: “Smack them on the caboose with a canoe paddle”

Latest invaluable analysis and commentary from Chris Whalen and Institutional Risk Analytics, the outfit that has been spot-on during the financial meltdown and before.

Whalen tries to explain how and why the big boys like Citi are not home free, not to mention the positively delusional valuations that the feds are trying to stick on bad assets. There is at least one more massive shock to the system coming this year as the latest “toxic asset plan” crashes and burns.

Meanwhile, the solvent, prudent community banks continue to go about their business. If we are going to come out of this correction in a better place it will only happen if these guys positively revolt and force the fraud operators in DC and on Wall Street to liquidate this crud and move on.

Update: Sorry, had to add this. The entire episode makes more sense than a scary number of supposed experts:

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Heels Roll, Bob Knight Rocks

The Tar Heels played some of their best defense of the season in a comfortable takedown of Oklahoma. Next up is a swarming Nova bunch that has never faced UNC’s combo of power and pace. As ever the key will be valuing the ball and not giving the opponent easy baskets. Ty Lawson has been quite remarkable in that phase of the game and should he continue to perform at a high level, the Heels will add another title banner to the crowded Dean Dome ceiling.

And then maybe Roy does not have to do TV ads in his underwear.

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Lindsey Graham is Crazy and Must Be Stopped

I swear this little peckerwood is working my last good nerve….

Now Graham, giant in his own mind, a statesman and great thinker, wants to tax health care benefits in order to shovel yet more revenue toward Washington. The LA Times reports:

A number of Republicans also are interested in looking at the tax break. “That’s a large pot of money that could be used to create access to healthcare,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said this week.

Bzzt. Fail. It does not matter that employer-provided health benefits are a huge accident of our messed up federal tax code. First you fix the tax code. You do not, in any universe, contemplate a massive marginal tax rate increase on millions of Americans for any reason, let alone to further socialize and centralize the delivery of health care.

Why does South Carolina keep electing this dipstick? He a sophist and a charlatan without any redeeming qualities.

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Another We Told Ya So Moment. Dammit.

kkGee, what did McClatchy tell me this morning?

…North Carolina’s economy is looking more like Michigan’s…. …”The numbers are simply atrocious…” ….The Charlotte metro area should continue to have a higher unemployment rate than the state as a whole…. …The mergers and job cuts that have come in banking have been magnified in this state – and it’s going to get worse… …”we have a much larger exposure to many of the industries that are getting hit the hardest”…

Any more “the worst is behind us” crap and I’m gonna slap somebody. The major local income loss is ahead of us, not behind. Without income there is no consumption, even if federal money tries to fill the gap. More specifically, here is a metric I’d love for someone to tease out: How many SVPs making $300K a year does Charlotte have in Q3 09 compared to Q3 07? That is the money that greased CLT’s go-go boomtimes — and I don’t think it is ever coming back.

Charlotte basically sat at the apex of the great banking bubble. If it helps, let’s drop our prescient if derogatory Detroit-on-the-Catawba meme and turn back in history. Much further back, to the Silk Road. Great cities grew up, very wealthy and famous for years upon years only to sink back under the sands when economic fundamentals changed.

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Trying to Chase the Rain Way

Maybe this will help.

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It is Not Just McClatchy: Blender Folds.

From the looks of the book I assumed Blender was making money. I guess not. The April issue will be the last of the pop culture mish-mash.

I keep saying it and it must seem obvious only to me, but mass market display ads are dead. Dead. Like whale oil. Expensive, messy, and just OK at doing the job.

Even when retailing comes back, display ads will not.

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