Thursday, August 04, 2005
US: Knight Ridder, Gannett and MediaNews in a series of newspaper transactions
As Knight Ridder, found through Visual Editors, announced on Wednesday Gannett Co., according to Orlando Sentinel the largest US newspaper publisher, the MediaNews Group and Knight Ridder, the second largest publisher, are conducting a series of transactions. Knight Ridder is selling its newspaper interests in Detroit to Gannett and MediaNews Group. The Detroit Newspaper Agency will be reorganized into the Detroit Newspaper Partnership, LP. "Gannet now owns the Detroit Free Press; MediaNews Group has acquired The Detroit News from Gannett. Gannett is now the general partner in the Detroit newspaper partnership and MediaNews the limited partner."
According to Editor & Publisher "as part of the sale, Knight Ridder also will receive The (Boise) Idaho Statesman, and two newspapers in the state of Washington, The (Olympia) Olympian, and The Bellingham Herald from Gannett... In return, Gannett will receive the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat and an undisclosed amount of cash from Knight Ridder."
As stated by Forbes the Detroit News, "which now primarily publishes in the afternoon, will become a morning publication." The Free Press and the News will start to publish separate Saturday editions instead of a combined. The Free Press will publish a Sunday paper. "Two daily newspapers, competing editorially in the city of Detroit. That's the bottom line of today's transactions. Detroit is the winner here, and Gannett is proud we were able to make this happen," said Craig Dubow, CEO and president of Gannett as Forbes reports.
The Detroit News reports today that "for Detroit Free Press employees, it was a day of shock. Its 65-year-old relationship with one giant media company abruptly ended, only to be replaced by another giant media company that was commonly viewed as the enemy until Wednesday afternoon." In an announcement, published on Poynter, Tony Ridder, Knight Ridder CEO, addressed the Free Press staff: "This is a very difficult thing for me to have to say, but we have agreed to sell our interest in the Free Press and our ownership interest in the (Detroit Newspaper) Agency to Gannett. The Free Press has always been one of Knight Ridder's very best newspapers in all sorts of ways... It's very difficult to turn the Free Press over to somebody else."
John K. Hartman, professor of journalism at Central Michigan University, said on Editor & Publisher"This has been coming for a long time. Gannett has never made the profits it expected from the JOA (which went through in 1989) in part because of mismanagement and in part because a lack of chemistry in shared management with Knight Ridder. Gannett would be more likely to buy out Knight Ridder than the reverse because Gannett has more cash and that only a recession or hard times would cause a buyout. Newspapers are having hard times now. Knight Ridder is struggling financially."
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