A steady decline at Strib.com?

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Star Tribune Dot Calm: In April, StarTribune.com ranked 26th in Nielsen’s ranking of the most popular newspaper websites. In May, the site fell off the list altogether, and in June — according to new NetRatings statistics released by Editor & Publisher — the site doesn’t merit a spot in the top 30 newspapers as measured by the number of page views and unique vistors per month. In June, the collective websites of Village Voice Media papers, owner of City Pages, made the list.

How far have Strib stats declined? The paper’s April ranking showed 1.5 million unique visitors over the course of a month. StarTribune.com must be doing worse than June’s last-place finisher: the 30th most popular newspaper, the Boston Herald, brought in 1.2 million visitors last month.

Question: Will numbers improve for July, the first full month James Lileks will have logged at Buzz.mn? Probably. But perhaps not much. After all, he was in charge of the site for all but five days during June.

McClatchy goes down: Also seeing southward-bound numbers is former Strib parent company McClatchy. Bloomberg analyst Jonathan Weil writes that, after the company bought the Knight Ridder chain for $4.6 billion a year ago and sold off papers it didn’t want, the “stock market thinks [McClatchy’s] balance sheet belongs on the funny pages.” The company sold the Pioneer Press, a KR paper for years, to Media News in 2006. Weil reports that McClatchy’s stock price is now 31 percent lower than it was the day it bought KR.

Changes a-coming to the Strib Op-Ed page? When he worked at the Pioneer Press in 2004, Brian Lambert attended a 2004 “business literacy” get-together with Par Ridder, in which the then-publisher said he liked the idea of making the PiPress Op-Ed page “a conservative alternative to the Star Tribune.” Now, writing for The Rake, Lambert says his sources at the Strib’s editorial page are hearing a message that focuses on what Ridder thinks readers want — and not on national issues. “His message, basically, was to write with more of an eye on the marketplace, and he sees that marketplace as being less interested in national issues, like Iraq, Scooter Libby, the U.S. attorneys story, than local issues,” an opinion page employee told Lambert. “Essentially it’s another step in the transition from treating readers like citizens to treating them like customers.”