seattle_times.jpg
Sure, lots of locals stand ready to invest in this relic.
We've grown used to the Seattle Times railing against the corporate takeover of media.

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Seattle Times Firmly Opposed to Banks Getting Involved in the Newspaper Business, Except When It Needs a Loan

seattle_times.jpg
Sure, lots of locals stand ready to invest in this relic.
We've grown used to the Seattle Times railing against the corporate takeover of media. Being a family-owned paper, the Times naturally views its own model as the superior one.

Now that publisher Frank Blethen's son, Ryan, has taken over the Times' editorial page, the deriding of newspaper consolidation (and the estate tax!) continues. But Blethen the younger has gone so far this morning as to attack even the idea of using banks to bankroll a newspaper.

"Banks do not belong in the newspaper industry," today's unsigned editorial intones. The Times condemns the newly bankrupt Media News Corp. for going "on a spree of buying newspapers with money borrowed from banks." Which is ironic, since the Times itself has been living off bank financing for years.

A decade ago, the Times Company took out $233 million in loans to buy up a newspaper chain in the Blethen home state of Maine. (It then dumped the papers last year.) And as the Times itself reported, Frank Blethen decided to "double down" on the company's bank loans back in 2002, going deeper into debt in order to help the company emerge from a slump.

A Times spokesperson hasn't yet responded to an inquiry about the company's current loans and credit lines.

It sure would be nice if all the country's newspapers could find "local owners who will do right by them," as the editorial helpfully suggests. But should the Times itself ever go up for sale, you can be sure it won't be a bunch of Seattle-area angels looking to buy the Uniquely Northwest company. It'll be investors backed by banks.

(The author would like to thank the handsome and talented loan officers at the Bank of Montreal, without whom this post would not be possible.)

 
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