McClatchy Interactive Adds Details to KR Plans

McClatchy doesn’t plan any major changes for Knight Ridder’s online operations, but plans to save $15 million by getting rid of redundancies in the two companies’ operations, said McClatchy VP of Interactive Media Chris Hendricks in an interview with the NAA’s Rob Runett.

Hendricks has made a habit throughout his career of referring to “bodies” as cost centers. But he told Runett that the touted $15 million of savings from digital ops will come from dumping duplicated technology and software, along with volume discounts for hosting costs, content licensing, bandwidth and other related costs. He was less specific about layoffs, but those will probably come too.

Strategically, Hendricks said he plans to largely keep the status quo at Knight Ridder Digital. He voiced surprising support for the Real Cities national ad network, as well as for Classified Ventures, and the Tribune-Knight Ridder and Gannett investments in CareerBuilder and ShopLocal. He begged off commitments to smaller KR investments such as Topix and Tribe, however, pending further study.

I had predicted that McClatchy would dump RealCities, which was a pet project of Tony Ridder’s. But Hendricks doesn’t anticipate killing it off. “We’re bullish on Real Cities,” he told Runett, noting that he hopes to expand RealCities’ mission to that a general service provider, incorporating tools from McClatchy Interactive.

“We’ll focus on growing that network to more sites. Three hundred or 400 sites would be much more of an eye-catcher to the marketplace,” he said.