UPDATE: The Weekly finanlly ran a shortened version of this letter May 23.
This is a letter I sent over to the SF Weekly last week in response to a story on the Reilly lawsuit settlement. Somehow, the Weekly couldn't manage to get the letter into print, so we're posting it here on the Bruce Blog:
To the Weekly: (for publication as a letter to the editor in the next edition: since the Weekly and apparently all VVM papers have blocked emails from the Guardian, I am sending this by fax and by hand)
In my Bruce/B3 blog at SFBG.com commenting on the Reilly victory in his Hearst/Singleton antitrust case, I wrote that a reporter had asked me for comment on the settlement of the litigation.
The reporter was Michael Stoll and he told me in an email that he was doing a piece on the settlement for the "SUCKA FREE CITY" page for the SF Weekly/New Times/VVM chain paper. I purposely didn't identify the reporter or the column (appropriately named) or the paper because I didn't think the Weekly would run my comments that I had quickly written up and sent to him by email. Then I wrote my Weekly comments in my blog.
As expected, the Weekly didn't run my comments. Either Stoll or the editors working under Executive VVM Editor Michael Lacey ended up writing without blushing that (a) "the deal turned out to be unpopular with about everyone," (b)the Guardian and Media Alliance, our co-plaintiff in our joint suit to unseal the records in the federal court case, were in some kind of "catfight" (we weren't and aren't),(c) the Guardian was somehow chasing butterflies up and down the hills of San Francisco and the East Bay by writing that Reilly had won a major victory and performed a major public service by exposing and stopping the secret Hearst/Singleton moves to kill daily competition and impose regional monopoly in the Bay Area, and (d)the Guardian was giving up its fight to unseal the court documents.
I would appreciate you now running this letter in full and my statement to Stoll at his request:
"I think Reilly once again performed a major journalistic and public service by taking on a tough and expensive antitrust case that neither the Bill Lockyer/Jerry Brown AG's office nor the George Bush/Alberto Gonzales U.S. Department of Justice would touch. I think it was a major feat that Reilly 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 agreement and force them to compete in the Bay Area for the duration.
"Wouldn't it have been simply awful if Reilly hadn't sued on his own dime and no one came forward to blow the whistle on the secret moves of the nation's biggest chains (Hearst, Singleton, Gannett, Stephens)to kill daily competition and impose regional monopoly on one of the most liberal and civilized cities in the world?
"It would also have been simply awful if no one had come forward, as the Bay Guardian and Media Alliance did, to blow the whistle on the moves by the publishers to seal the documents of collaboration and to do our best to get them unsealed. Alas, I do feel badly that there was no provision in the settlement agreement to open the explosive discovery documents, including the settlement agreement. Imagine, the nation's biggest chains moving secretly to monopolize an entire region and then defying journalistic/free press principles to seal the documents in federal court.
"The settlement knocked out our intervener status and we have no standing. We continue to recommend strongly that Reilly and his attorney Joe Alioto go back into court with a motion to unseal and to do as Alioto said at the press conference he would do, and try to line up lots of individuals and organizations to sign on to an unsealing motion."
Somehow I'm not surprised that the paper controlled by Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey, a cog in their l7 alternative paper chain headquartered in Phoenix, didn't get the point. B3
Thanks very much.
Bruce B. Brugmann
Promoting independent and competitive journalism in and outside San Francisco since l966