A Season in Hellville: The Dolans March in, But Please, No Press!

On Newsday’s own blog Spin Cycle, reporter John Riley barely concealed his frustration.

“Some newspapers have a vision of changing the world and making it a better place,” he wrote. “But it seems the Cablevision vision is Cablevision. Jim Dolan, who apparently couldn’t find the time to talk to Newsday, is quoted in today’s Newsday story from an interview with Channel 12, which he also owns.”

“It seemed to show a lack of respect and a lack of desire to be helpful to your new property,” said Mr. Riley in an interview. “He said Newsday was a marketable commodity, and I thought he said he wanted people to read Newsday. I don’t know what he was doing.”

(For this story, Ms. Yan did not comment; Mr. Harrington would not comment and referred phone calls to his editor, Eli Reyes, who also did not return a call for comment.)

Meanwhile, as to the Dolan’s grand plans, little is known at this stage.

During the bidding process for Newsday, the Dolans were for a time considering a partnership to buy the newspaper with the Observer Media Group, the publishing group that owns The Observer; both parties decided to go their separate ways well before the deal was sealed on Saturday.

“People here are gossiping, trying to figure it out, and there’s a lot of futile guesswork going on here,” said a reporter. “This is the third owner I’ve been here for, and you don’t feel the results of these things until well after they take over. Even those reporters who cover Cablevision don’t really know what it means.”

“People are so beaten down here there’s not much of anything that could cause much of a reaction,” said one reporter.

“There are a lot of people here who are numb and buried themselves in their work and don’t even wanna discuss it,” said another.

Mr. Mancini said he hasn’t spoken with the Dolans.

“That’s not something I worry about,” he said, when asked whether he thought the Dolans were likely to bring in their own man to edit the paper. “I have not spoken to anyone at Cablevision at this time.”

Tim Knight, the paper’s publisher, met with staffers in various meetings in the auditorium on the first floor of their Melville home on May 12, though that revealed little.

He said he was thrilled that the new owners are from Long Island—think of the opportunities with News 12, the cable station they own!—but he didn’t have many answers beyond that.

What, for instance, would happen to the staff’s impressive pension plan? When would the deal close? Would Mr. Knight have a job in a few months?

“Sometimes dead men don’t know that they’re dead,” said one reporter who attended a morning meeting with him. Mr. Knight didn’t return a call for comment.

In an interview on newsday.com, Mr. Knight was equally evasive. When pressed by a Newsday reporter to explain what exactly he had heard from new ownership, Mr. Knight said, “I think Mr. Dolan’s statement in the press release speaks for itself. I wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to put words in his mouth.”

The press release didn’t say a whole lot.

Newsday is one of the great names in the history of American journalism and it is both an honor and privilege to return Newsday back to Long Island-based ownership after nearly 40 years,” the statement from Charles Dolan read.

A Season in Hellville: The Dolans March in, But Please, No Press!