Eureka! Finally, Hearst covers the censored story and admits it is partnering with Singleton

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And now this: Are the Conglomerati going to buy the Santa Cruz Sentinel?

The timing was exquisite. This morning, in preparing to appear on the Will and Willie show on 960 the Quake, I checked the Chronicle/Hearst to see if there were any timely new developments on the biggest censored media story of the year—how the Conglomerati are censoring and trivializing their coverage of their move to regional monopoly. (See my blogs and the Guardian’s Project Censored package in last week’s edition).

I checked first to see if a Hearst policy story was tucked away as it often is on page 2 of the business section under the “Daily Digest” head. (The last one was a Reuters story out of New York.) Today I found that the Chronicle moved the story up a notch but still buried it under the fold on page l of the business section under a head that read “Complex deal ties Bay Area papers” and continued the Hearst strategy to confuse and bore anybody trying to follow its monopolizing shenanigans.

And so I was able to report on how Hearst portrayed the unprecedented deal: folks, this is a complex deal and a complex story and it doesn’t affect you and please don’t bother reading about it. Just move on.

But I noted that the story did acknowledge what the Bruce Blog and the Guardian had been reporting for weeks: that Hearst and MediaNews Group/Dean Singleton were partners in the regional monopoly deal, according to a sworn affidavit by James Asher, Hearst’s senior vice president and chief legal and development officer, filed in the Clint Reilly/Joe Alioto antitrust suit against Hearst and Singleton. And the story used this lead to characterize the partnership: "The two companies that own all the major daily newspapers in the Bay Area could become even more closely intertwined, according to a court papers filed in a federal antitrust lawsuit." The second paragraph said that "New York's Hearst Corp. could become part owner of MediaNews, a Denver company that owns the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, Marin Independent Journal and several other Bay Area. papers."

I also pointed out that, to my knowledge, none of the Conglomerati (Hearst/Singleton/McClatchy/Gannett/Stephens chains) had (a) run the big Project Censored story and all had (b) censored and/or trivialized their coverage of their own deal. And I noted that all of this confirmed in 96-point Tempo Bold the value and virtue of Project Censored.

I was also happy to congratulate Willie Brown and Will Durst (the Will and Willie duo) and producer Paul Wells for being the only mainstream media show to my knowledge to give Project Censored an airing (featuring an extensive interview yesterday of Censored Project Director Peter Phillips and my Censored update today.)

Later, when I got back to my office, I found that a Peninsula Press Club blog jumped on paragraph eight in the Chronicle story, which said that the two parties in the lawsuit on Monday had "agreed to seal documents in the lawsuit unless they are already public information." The blog noted that "newspapers usually fight attempts to suppress public records" and labeled the move a “self-imposed secrecy order" by Hearst and Singleton. It all but asked the obvious question: Will this kind of secrecy be yet another adverse effect of the coming of the Conglomerati? B3

Postscript: And now this: the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported today that the Conglomerati may soon own yet another daily on the outside ring of the Bay Area: the Sentinel, which competes for now with the nearby Monterey Herald/Hearst/Singleton and is up for sale by its owner Ottaway/Dow Jones. The Sentinel reported that “bids for the Sentinel are due today and while no one is making public who, if anyone, is interested in the paper, industry analysts name William Dean Singleton…” Media consultant John Morton said, "'I wouldn’t rule out anybody, but the most likely buyer is the one who owns the most newspapers in the area.’” Hearst and Singleton papers didn’t carry this story. When will they?

Impertinent questions: Where are the antitrust consolidators in Justice and AG Bill Lockyer’s office? Will they once again remove all pebbles and hurdles in the path of yet another clustering consolidation?

Callers to the Quake show had good questions: what can be done about this march to newspaper monopoly? Not much, I said, ending with my stock answer: support your local alternatives.

Personal note to the caller who said I brought up these issues when he was a student in a journalism class I taught at Cal-State-Hayward in the early l970s: answer my blog or send me an email at bruce@sfbg.com and let's catch up.

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Peninsula Press Club