It was the lead item on the widely-read Romanesko media news column, but you had to dig deep into the Bay Area section of the San Francisco Chronicle to find it: There’s breaking news in the deal that would give Dean Singleton’s Media News Group near-monopoly control of daily newspapers in the Bay Area.
Clint Reilly, a former mayoral candidate, is the only one doing what the U.S. and California Justice Departments should be doing: Going to court to block the deal. But yesterday, a judge moved to deny Reilly’s request for a preliminary injunction to put the deal on hold until the court could determine how it would damage the local journalistic and economic landscape.
But none of the stories quoted outside sources on the problems with the deal, and none of them pointed out the essential flaw in the judge’s argument: Judge Susan Illston claimed that Reilly hadn’t shown “imminent, irreparable damage” – although she did see irreparable damage to the Denver billionaire who is working overtime to corner the Bay Area news market and impose a chokehold on it for the duration. What she missed is that Reilly is representing not just his own economic interest here, but the public interest – which will of course be damaged, irreparably, now and forever.