The NYT is planning to borrow almost a quarter of a billion dollars by taking out a mortgage against its new New York City headquarters. On the one hand this has to do with the specific story of the New York Times. But as I’ve been reading these various stories over the weekend, with the possible bankruptcy of Tribune and McClatchy’s apparent decision to put the Miami Herald on the block, I’ve been struck by how many of these companies took on massive loads of debt quite recently for reasons that strike me as at least questionable, given the paper to digital transition that was on the horizon.
I want to be clear that the structural and technological challenges the newspaper industry faces are vast, ones that would be tremendously challenging to the best business and publishing minds. But it’s hard not to see some really poor decision-making over the last decade that made the present squeeze much, much tighter.