New Knight Ridder owner will sever three major
northern California newspapers
By Jason Bennert, Bay City News Service
March 13, 2006
Three Northern California newspapers face uncertain futures today
after the company buying the Knight Ridder newspaper chain announced
that it would be selling the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa
Times and Monterey Herald.
Sacramento-based McClatchy Co. has agreed to buy the Knight Ridder
chain for $6.5 billion including $2 billion in assumed debt, but
this morning McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt announced that the company
would sell 12 of Knight Ridder's 32 daily newspapers almost immediately
including the three Northern California papers.
"These are terrific publications but simply do not fit with
our long standing acquisition and operating strategies,'' Pruitt
Two likely buyers for the Northern California papers are Media
News Group, which owns the Oakland Tribune, Marin Independent
Journal and several other Bay Area newspapers, and the Newspaper
Guild, the union representing workers at the Mercury News and
Herald, according to John McManus, director of gradethenews.org,
a Web site affiliated with San Jose State and Stanford universities
that provides criticism and analysis of Bay Area journalism.
"I think that Dean Singleton is going to be very interested
in those papers,'' McManus said. "The Guild is also interested.''
Singleton is the CEO of Media News Group.
Luther Jackson, the executive director of the San Jose Newspaper
Guild, which represents employees at both the Mercury News and
Herald, said the national Newspaper Guild is interested in acquiring
all 12 of the papers McClatchy wants to sell.
"Rather than sitting on the sidelines we're in the game,''
The quality of the Mercury News, Herald and Times would most
likely improve if the Newspaper Guild acquired the three papers,
according to Jackson.
"Generally speaking at employee-owned companies there tends
to be higher productivity because you're working for yourself,''
McManus believes that the three Northern California newspapers
will ultimately be owned by Media News Group.
"If I were betting I would bet they would all end up in
the Media news pocket,'' McManus said.
McClatchy did not include the Silicon Valley Community Newspaper
group, which includes the Palo Alto Daily News and other local
papers on the Peninsula, on the list of Knight Ridder properties
that it planned to sell. A McClatchy spokeswoman was not immediately
available to comment on the company's plans for the SVCN papers.
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