Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chronicle Closure Threat Caps a Bad Week for Newspapers

The past seven days have been traumatic for the print press, already reeling from unprecedented financial and job losses last year.

The owners of the Philadelphia Daily News announced they were seeing bankruptcy for the paper, once a member of the late Knight-Ridder chain. Sacramento-based McClatchy Newspapers purchased the chain, keeping some of its papers and selling others—including the San Jose Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times—to help cover the costs of the purchase.

Among the buyers of the Philadephia paper was one of the nation’s leading developers, Bruce Toll of Toll Brothers, a home-builder, which announced last week that it would provide six-month mortgage protection for buyers who lost their jobs.

Meanwhile, the Bay Area’s other dominant newspaper owner, MediaNews, announced that it was withdrawing its lead Southern California newspaper from head-to-head competition with the Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Daily News will revert to a role it had abandoned three decades ago and retreat to its original home base in the San Fernando Valley, where it had begun as the Valley News and Green Sheet, a free paper, before its sale to a succession of owners, including, for a time, the Chicago-based Tribune Co.—current publishers of the Los Angeles Times.

At the same time, the Daily News moved its news desk to West Covina, consolidating operations with other editors in the Los Angeles News Group, owner Dean Singleton’s counterpart to his northern California Bay Area News Group.

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