When MediaNews Group CEO Dean Singleton and his partners ponied up $1 billion for three California Bay Area newspapers formerly owned by Knight Ridder (and one ex-KR paper in Minnesota), he earned the enmity of a relentless foe: Bruce Brugmann, the editor and publisher of the Bay Guardian, an alternative weekly in San Francisco. Brugmann's bark may be worse than his bite, but his bark is mighty loud -- especially when he convinces others to yap along with him.
The Bay Guardian editorialized against the purchase of the California papers under the headline "How to Fight Singleton's Monopoly" -- but that was only the beginning. Inspired by the editorial, San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi submitted a resolution to the SF Board of Supervisors asking that his fellows urge "the United States Attorney General and the California Attorney General to carefully consider the antitrust implications of the proposed acquisition" of Knight Ridder by the McClatchy Company, and McClatchy's subsequent deal with MediaNews Group. This resolution echoes a letter sent to a Justice Department type under the signatures of several members of the U.S. House of Representatives from California. Although these efforts are unlikely to scotch the deal, or even delay it, they will almost certainly generate headaches.
A billion dollars bought Singleton four newspapers -- but it apparently didn't buy him any peace and quiet. -- Michael Roberts