Friday, April 21, 2006

Bay Area journalism heads further down the toilet

The Bay Area newspaper landscape could undergo a seismic change if Denver's MediaNews Group purchases from Sacramento's McClatchy Co. the San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times and two other papers in a $1 billion deal that a published report said might happen this week.

MediaNews, the country's seventh-largest newspaper publisher, owns the Oakland Tribune, Marin Independent Journal and several other local papers. It would immediately become the biggest newspaper operation in the Bay Area if it were to acquire the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times.


A MediaNews purchase could face such obstacles as antitrust scrutiny, labor opposition and shareholder inquiries about whether McClatchy got the best price. But experts said a deal would probably overcome those hurdles.


Selling the papers to MediaNews would help McClatchy raise more than $2 billion from the sale of the 12 papers. And it would provide MediaNews and its CEO, William Dean Singleton, with a more powerful presence throughout the Bay Area.

Singleton has built a newspaper empire through a strategy of "clustering" -- owning groups of nearby newspapers that can share resources like printing presses and staff, and can offer a larger circulation reach for advertisers.

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