Singleton buys another daily paper and further locks up the Bay Area market .Where's the U.S. Attorney General and the California Attorney General?
By Bruce B. Brugmann
And so it comes to pass that Dean Singleton, already weighted down with 56 daily newspapers and l20 non-dailies in l3 states, including a virtual monopoly of the Bay Area daily market, is buying the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
The story in the San Jose Mercury News/Singleton paper is a snapshot of how things stand in California journalism.The announcement came from out of state (Singleton himself from his Denver headquarters). The paper was bought in a quick shuffle aimed at giving Singleton an even tighter lock on the Bay Area market: Ottaway of New York, a subsidiary of Dow Jones, sells to another New York-based firm (Community Newspaper Holdings Inc) two months ago. And then CNHI sells to Singleton and Singleton says without blushing in a house press release, "We are delighted to accquire the Santa Cruz Sentinel and expand our reach in this very competitive region. The Sentinel is a fine newspaper today but it will be strengthened by the resources of our existing papers." Chop, chop, whack, whack.
Technically, the Sentinel will be acquired by a Singleton-controlled entity called the California Newspaper Partnership, with the Gannett chain headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, and Stephens Media, out of Las Vegas and Little Rock, Arkansas, as the remaining partners. Meanwhile, as the newly unsealed federal court documents show, Singleton out of Denver and Hearst out of New York have been collaborating on several levels and Hearst is now a major investor with Singleton and helping finance his acquisitions.
This is Singleton's modus operandi: he doesn't compete, he clusters and collaborates. I once asked him, back when the old Hearst Examiner was up for sale, why he didn't come to town and buy it. "Dean," I said, "come to San Francisco and compete with the Chronicle and we'll make a real man out of you." Nope, he replied in five words, "Too much energy, no profit." And that was that. In short, Singleton and his "competitors" are now partners and there will be no real daily newspaper competition in the Bay area. Why is the only major impediment to this monopoly mess Clint Reilly and his attorneys Joe Alioto and Dan Shulman? Where is the outrage?
Repeating: where is the U.S. Attorney General and the California Attorney General as the monopoly noose of ever more conservative newspapers tightens on one of the world's most liberal and civilized areas?
Not a peep from former AG Bill Lockyer, who lived under the thumb of Singleton in Hayward with the Hayward Review, and not a peep from current AG Jerrry Brown, who lives under the Singleton thumb in Oakland with the
Tribune and an East Bay monopoly now stretching all the way south to Santa Cruz and Monterey and north to Vallejo. Thank God there are three lively alternative newspapers in the area: the Santa Cruz Good Times and the Santa Cruz Metro and the Monterey County Weekly in nearby Seaside. There's now even more for them to do. B3