Ben Bagdikian comments on the monopolization capers of Hearst and Gannett in l937 and Hearst, Singleton, and Gannett in 2007
A note from B3: Ben Bagdikian knows more and has written more about the monopolization of the press than
just about anybody. He is the author of six editions of the media classic, "The Media Monopoly," and dean emeritus of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California- Berkeley.
In Bagdikian's first media monopoly book in l983, he wrote that 50 or so conglomerates controlled most of the U.S. media. With each edition the numbers shrank and for years, whenever I would speak on journalism, I would call Bagdikian and ask him what the current magic monopoly was. It went from 26 in l987 to 23 in l990 to ten in l996 to five with his latest edition, "The New Media Monopoly."
He is retired from teaching and living in Berkeley in the shadow of the Hearst and Singleton empires. But since I haven't seen him quoted in any of their papers, I sent him an email asking if he would like to weigh in with any comments on the latest monopoly proceedings of his local papers and on the upcoming Reilly vs. Hearst antitrust trial. This is his answer.
By Ben Bagdikian
When Judge Illston ruled recently that she may open the secret deals that turned the San Francisco Bay Area into a newspaper monopoly paradise, it's possible that like the biblical Adam and Eve paradise, the parties ---- Singleton, Hearst, McClatchy ---are stark naked.
For while crazy things were happening that looked like the bad old days when monopoly was the standard newspaper mode of operation while government and judges looked the other way.
Hearst owned the wobbly afternoon Examiner and Nan McEvoy, the minority De Young stockholder in favor of avoiding monopoly, got outvoted by the new model newspaper shareholders. Hearst was about to toss the Examiner into the Humboldt Current to freeze to death while Washington Anti-Trust cops in Washington were asleep in a nice warm bar provided by the Bushies (the Bushies have a knack for finding Attorneys General whose approach is "tell me what you want and I'll tell you it's legal"). Most of the de Young heirs, like most third and fourth generation newspaper stockholders, sold their Chronicle stock for seven-plus-digit lump sums instead of annual dividends. They sold the Chron to Hearst.