T-D looks in the mirror

Newspapers have a hard time covering themselves. On Sunday the T-D looked inward. John Reid Blackwell, wrote about the mighty struggles at the paper’s parent, Media General. “In the past two decades, the company’s strategy has been to build a newspaper and television empire in the Southeast and to combine and find collaborative opportunities at its television, newspaper and online operations,” Blackwell writes.

That’s not working so well. Continued lousy performance could result in more buyouts and or layoffs. Lately the hometown management has been battling a hedge fund shareholder who wants fresh faces on the board. That’s led to an entertaining exchange of snarky press releases and proxy statements.

For an objective story, check out the Tampa Bay Business Journal story.

For fun, read the press releases.

Harbinger Capital Management writes, “Instead of providing a financial and operational analysis and a clear strategic plan to rebuild shareholder value, the company chose to defend its failures by offering stockholders a collection of scattered, unsubstantiated points and unwarranted attacks on our experienced nominees that serve only to distract from the core issues.”We are confident that stockholders who have suffered through Media General’s extremely poor stock and operational performance will see through this misguided, desperate ploy and will support our qualified nominees. Our nominees bring experience, judgment, independence and accountability to Media General and will work with the other directors to address the challenges the company is facing. As stockholders, we deserve better — and it’s time for change.”

Gulp.

The Times-Dispatch story also fails to discuss the company’s earnings. Revenue in February dipped 11 percent from the year before to $63.4 million. And last year was not a good year.

In 2007, Media General earned profits of $10.7 million, or 47 cents a share compared to $79 million or $3.32 a share the year before. That’s a decrease of 86% in one year.

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