I had a weird dream last night, a dream so realistic and vivid that I awoke from it with a start, convinced that it had actually happened.
I dreamed that the Graham family had decided to spin off The Washington Post as a separate entity, to focus the family company on its thriving Kaplan education division (which, in real life, already dwarfs the newspaper in size and profitability). In my dream, the Grahams had decided that it was best for shareholders that the company concentrate on Kaplan, with the newspaper be left to fend for itself. My former colleagues at The Post were shocked and saddened, as you might imagine. I could even hear Ben Bradlee ripping the decision. I even dreamed I was being interviewed by Howie Kurtz about the ramifications of the spin-off.
OK, it was only a dream—a nightmare, really. But I know what brought it on (besides some rich food at dinner): the shocking announcement that McClatchy is selling the Minneapolis Star Tribune to a private equity firm, the latest seismic shift to rock the newspaper industry.
Spinning off The Washington Post? It'll never happen. It's only a bad dream. Cue the clanking chains of Marley's ghost. Of course, the employees of the Star Tribune went to sleep on Christmas thinking they were invulnerable, too.
Welcome to the newspaper industry, circa 2007: Anything is possible.