Nancy Pelosi, who is asking the Justice Department to relax anti-competitive rules on newspaper ownership (a bad idea), should instead push legislation barring a daily newspaper in a one-paper town from closing down unless and until the owners offer it for sale at a fair price and give someone else a chance to run it. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer should join her.
The Chron unions have talked of an interest in buying the paper. Financier Warren Hellman confirmed to us that he supports creating a nonprofit entity to take over Chronicle operations. Hearst Corp., which has almost certainly already written off its $600 million purchase as a tax loss, should be forced to work with potential buyers and give them a deal no worse than what the Fangs got in 2001.
The future of the Chron has implications for the entire industry and if Hearst is going to carry out the assassination of a newspaper, it should be done in a fishbowl. Congress, the state Legislature, and the San Francisco supervisors should hold hearings, subpoena the Hearst executives, and push alternatives. And Newsom needs to quit gallivanting around the state and start working on his own city's problems. *