How can you trust newspaper chains that can't cover the big story: their secret moves to end daily competition in the Bay area?


By Bruce B. Brugmann

Click here for the Guardian editorial Reilly's Victory

Click here for the Guardian story Beyond the Reilly settlement

I was glad that I went to the Clint Reilly press conference April 23 and saw for myself what Reilly and his attorney Joe Alioto won in their historic settlement with Hearst and Singleton and just how the two monopolizing newspaper chains would cover the story about their own monopolizing moves. This was a crucial litmus test for them and their pleas that this was all their way of staying alive and "competitive."

In a phrase, the coverage of the chains (and their Gannett and Stephens chain partners) was lousy and confirmed the essential Reilly point: that they weren't competitive chains and that they couldn't be trusted to cover such a big local story about themselves or each other.

When I was asked by a reporter for my opinion of the settlement, I sat down and battled out my comment quickly:
"I think Reilly again performed a major journalistic and public service by taking on a tough and expensive antitrust case that neither the Bill Lockyer/Jerrry Brown AG's office or the George Bush/Alberto Gonzales U.S. Department of Justice wouldn't touch. I think it was a major feat that he accomplished what he did: (a) expose the Hearst/Singleton documents of collaboration and secrecy; (b) force a public and journalistic debate on the issue of regional monopoly, and (c) force Hearst and Singleton to rescind their secret collaboration and investment agreements and force them to compete for the duration.

"Wouldn't it have been simply awful if no one had come forward to blow the whistle on the secret moves of the nation's biggest chains, headed by conservative publishers from Denver and New York, to kill daily competition and impose regional monopoly on one of the most liberal and civilized regions in the world? Wouldn't it have been simply awful if someone, like the Guardian, Media Alliance, and the First Amendment Project, hadn't come forward to sue and blow the whistle on the monopolizers working secretly to lock up the Bay Area and then suppress the documents of collaboration in the federal antitrust case?"