Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Cereal Killer Hits New York

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Cereal Killer Hits New York

Article excerpt

An old friend came to a sudden, violent end the other day. It had all the marks of a brutal gangland execution. And while the deed was done in the cutthroat city of New York, it should be seen as a ominous warning nationwide, in cities and towns that knew neither the victim nor the executioner.

The victim, New York Newsday, was done in by a known cereal killer - Mark H. Willes, one of the new wave of media chiefs. He is brand new to the news biz but made quite a rep in the cereal biz, at General Mills. That, of course, made him a natural for the job of chief executive of Newsday's West Coast parent, Times Mirror Inc.

Turns out that Willes is a quick study. So last week he got his first tour of Newsday's New York metropolitan circulation area by helicopter, then breezed through the New York Newsday's Manhattan newsroom waving cheery greets to all. On the very next day, he ordered the paper closed for good.

He had decided New York Newsday can never package news in other than red ink. So he summarily executed the in-depth tabloid experiment that was in its 10th year - without giving its publishers and editors a chance to save it with cutbacks and retrenchment.

Of course, Newsday will still publish its daily newspaper on suburban Long Island, where it is huge and profitable. But the great city that sees itself as a melting pot will once again be without a newspaper that tried to show that there was indeed room for something in between the great, sedate New York Times and the sensation-shrieking tabloids of the New York Daily News and New York Post.

A message is in this for all of us who are producers, packagers or consumers of news. We are caught up in a new age of corporate conglomerate ownership of the news media - newspapers, TV, radio, magazines. And the folks who've come to run Times Mirror, by way of General Mills cereals, just showed us what we knew deep down but didn't want to be forced to confess: In this new age of conglomerate ownership, our business of discovering and presenting news has nothing to do with quality coverage - but everything to do with profits. …

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