Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Is There Really Just One Big Corporation Running All the Papers?

The Bay Guardian has always positioned itself as the scrappy underdog, the only San Francisco weekly to speak truth to power. For years it railed against monopolies that controlled the city's utilities.

The Bay Guardian is now looking at the recent consolidation of Bay Area newspapers and is once again yelling "monopoly." It is not only concerned that Dean Singleton owns the vast majority of the papers in the Bay Area, but is worried about the relationship between Hearst Corporation, the owner of the Chronicle, and Media News.

When McClatchy bought up Knight-Ridder it turned around and sold the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times and a batch of smaller papers to Media News. McClatchy then sold the Montery Herald and the St Paul Pioneer Dispatch to Hearst Corp, which turned over those papers to Media News in exchange for a large block of non-voting stock in Media News properties outside the Bay Area.

The Justice Department didn't find anything wrong with this. The only one who has stepped in to try and block the consolidation is Clint Reilly, a former political consultant. He is suing to prevent Hearst's takeover of Media News stock, arguing it would create a monopoly. A judge will hear the case in February.

Bruce Brugmann, the owner of the Bay Guardian, points out a delicious irony in his blog. The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine ran a lengthy narrative a few weeks ago about a newspaper war in Humboldt County between Singleton and an independent newspaper. But there has been very little written in the pages of the Chronicle about the impact of Dean Singleton on the Bay Area media scene.

"As you will remember from my last blog, I unveiled the term Eurekaism to replace the term Afghanistanism for the bad habit of many daily papers to cover stories in Eureka, but not the local big scandal or embarrassing stories in their hometowns," Brugmann wrote in his blog.

1 comment:

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