If you see Mike Klingensmith standing on a corner in the Twin Cities and need directions, chances are he can tell you where to go. That’s because he spent several summers in college driving a Yellow Cab around Minneapolis. Now the 57-year-old is back as the publisher of the Star Tribune, trying to steer the paper forward as he gets reacquainted with the city he left some 30 years ago. That was when the Twin Cities native set off for New York City, where he scaled the heights of various media and corporate empires, landing top spots at Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated and even co-founding Entertainment Weekly. On the eve of his one-year anniversary at the Star Tribune, we sat down to ask Klingensmith about his first year as publisher.
You’re a former financial analyst and investment banker who left to get into the newspaper business. Do you know something we don’t know?
I actually thought that the timing was pretty good. You know, things start to become conventional wisdom, like “There’s an irreversible decline in print.” I never really subscribed to that. I’m a little bit of a contrarian, and I felt like this just might be a good moment to get in. I honestly thought it was an interesting opportunity.