Scrooge McClatchy came early this year to the newsrooms of the Wichita Eagle and the Kansas City Star. As reported by the Wichita Business Journal, the Sacramento-based parent company of the two newspapers announced that it is moving the design and copy editing functions of its 30 newspapers to a central site in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The McClatchy Co. (NYSE American: MNI) will reportedly focus less on print and more on digital publishing. That much is inevitable. Declining advertising revenue has played a major role in the decision making of the struggling company. In August, the company announced that it would cut some 140 employees nationwide, roughly 3.5 percent of its total staff.
“By consolidating our news desks we achieve cost savings in the layout and production of our print product as well as operational efficiencies,” said Gary Wortel, publisher and president of The Sacramento Bee and McClatchy’s West regional publisher.
“As a strategy,” Wortel continued, putting a happy spin on the move, “our digital transformation is underway, our local journalism can be found by consumers on multiple platforms online and we now reach more people than ever before.”
In the way of background, brothers Charles and Valentine McClatchy launched the McClatchy empire by buying out the original owners of the Sacramento Bee and purchasing other newspapers. As they neared retirement age, the brothers turned to their avocation, reducing the Japanese influence in America.
As early as 1915, Valentine began writing about what he would indelicately call in a 1921 book, “Our New Racial Problem: Japanese Immigration and Its Menace.” This is one of several books and pamphlets that Valentine wrote on the subject while he was still affiliated with the newspapers.
According to Roger Daniels, author of the 1977 book The Politics of Prejudice, Valentine was the “real power” behind the founding in 1920 of the Japanese Exclusion League. Reportedly, Valentine “devoted full time to what he felt was a holy cause.” If his editor brother Charles objected, there is no evident record of the same. As Daniels notes, “Their differences of opinion did not include the Japanese question, for the Bee continued to be a vehicle for V.S. McClatchy’s anti-Japanese propaganda.”
Of course, none of this has anything to do with the declining fortunes of the newspaper. What has helped accelerate that decline, however, is the eagerness of its editors to brand conservatives as racists or nationalists or white supremacists by connections far more tenuous than the ones that would link current McClatchy staffers to their founders’ racist past.