Minnesotans who value a healthy statewide newspaper with stable local ownership and ambitious plans for an increasingly digital future have reason to celebrate today.
Taylor, 73, is the fifth owner of the paper since it was created with the merger of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune in 1982. He bought the company from majority owners Wayzata Investment Partners and GE Capital, as well as other former creditors and investors.
Much like the Star Tribune, whose history dates back 147 years, the Taylor family is deeply rooted in the Upper Midwest. Taylor started reading the newspaper as a boy on the family farm near Comfrey, and he fondly recalls keeping tabs on Joe DiMaggio by checking the baseball boxscores.
As a teenager, Taylor expected that farming would be his life’s work, but plans changed and he enrolled at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He also took a part-time job at Carlson Wedding Service, a small print shop he would later buy and expand.
Today the Taylor Corp., based in North Mankato, comprises 80 subsidiaries operating in 20 states and eight countries, although Taylor is better known to most Minnesotans as the owner of pro basketball’s Timberwolves and world champion Lynx.
The purchase of the Star Tribune gives Taylor control of the region’s largest media organization and the seventh-largest Sunday and 12th-largest daily circulation newspaper in the United States, with growing total readership based on print subscriptions and online traffic.
Stewardship of the paper is not something Taylor takes lightly. In a conversation with editorial writers last week, he said he would not have pursued the Star Tribune if it had been a “turnaround” project, and he expressed confidence in Publisher and CEO Michael J. Klingensmith and his team.
Taylor said he bought the paper “half with my head, half with my heart,” explaining that even though the news business is challenging, he believes owning the paper will be a good investment in a state asset.
As a lifelong Minnesotan, Taylor said he values the Star Tribune’s public service role, and he believes the paper can help bridge partisan, social and urban-rural divisions in the state.
The Star Tribune’s new owner said his expectations are for accurate and fair coverage in news, and a broad range of perspectives on the opinion pages. As a former Republican legislator and a longtime contributor to mostly GOP candidates, Taylor knows some readers will expect his political leanings to affect coverage. They won’t, he said, adding that he will not be involved in day-to-day management of the paper.
Taylor also said he knows he won’t agree with every editorial position. Instead, he emphasized that the Star Tribune must remain an independent and nonpartisan news and opinion source. That’s a goal already embraced by members of the Editorial Board.
Over the long history of the Star Tribune and its predecessor papers, ownership transitions have always led to changes in the company and its products. No doubt the Taylor era will follow suit.
What should be reassuring, however, is that Taylor promises that any changes that occur on his watch will be based on the best long-term interests of the company, its employees and, most important, the readers who depend on us every day. Minnesota’s largest and most influential media organization is in good hands.