Do not forget to check the Form 8-Ks for juicy information that is usually not disclosed in the corporate press releases of the conglomerati papers and usually not disclosed in their corporate house stories.
For example, the 8-K filing on Aug. 24, 2006, by the MediaNews Group, Inc. (Singleton) with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C., disclosed that key Singleton executives got nice bonuses for their work in consummating the Singleton/Hearst deal:
Joseph J. Lodovic IV, president, got a bonus of $l,000,000.
Gerald E. Grilly, executive vice-president and chief operating officer, got $l50,000. More: Grilly, according to the filing, “will retire from the company effective Aug. 3l, 2006. In connection therewith, Mr. Grilly will receive severance of $l.25 million payable over three years, as well as payment of his fiscal 2000 performance bonus of $8l,250 and $35,000 in connection with the forfeiture of his rights under the company’s supplemental executive retirement plan.”
Anthony F.Tierno, senior vice president of operations, got $50,000 and Eric Grilly, president, MediaNews Group interactive, got $75,000.
The moral: there’s lots of money to be made amongst the top executives of newspapers when they do their monopolizing. But, as we shall find, there’s not much money if any, for the rest of us. In fact, there are enormous upfront and longterm costs to staffers, readers, advertisers, the health and welfare of the community, and the marketplace of ideas principle underlying the First Amendment.
And then there is the juicy legal boilerplate laying out the end of real daily competition in the Bay Area for the duration: “On August 24, 2006, in connection with the consummation of the acquisition by MediaNews Group, Inc…of the Contra Costa Times and the San Jose Mercury News, and the entry by the company into an agreement with the Hearst Corporation pursuant to which (l) Hearst agreed to make an equity investment in the Company (such investment will not include any governance or economic rights or interest in the company’s publications in the San Francisco Bay Area and (ll) the Company agreed to purchase The Monterey Herald and the Saint Paul Pioneer Press from Hearst concurrently with the consummation of such equity investment, the Company awarded bonuses to certain of its officers and employees in the aggregate amount of $l.875 million, including bonuses to the Company’s named executive officers as set forth below.”
Let us save and cherish the delicious key phrase: one of the great whoppers of all time: “such investment will not include any governance or economic rights or interest in the company’s publications in the San Francisco Bay Area…” Translation: this is Hearstese and Singletonese stating in effect: there will be no more of this messy and expensive competition stuff from now on. Trust us.
Remember when Phil Bronstein, editor of the Hearst-owned Chronicle, and Susan Goldberg, editor of the now Singleton-owned Mercury News, made some loud, brave noises early on about how the papers would still compete like hell, no matter how intertwined the companies were on the business side? Bronstein and Goldberg and their editors have a tough job selling this propostion to their staff and communities. I’m afraid the way Hearst and Singleton have put the axe and the shovel thus far to the conglomeration story is a telling sign of what’s to come.
The Bronstein/Goldberg statements violate Brugmann’s Law of Monoply Journalism: when there is no real economic competition between newspapers, then there is no real news and editorial competition between newspapers. Alas. Alas. We shall see. Let us hope for the best. The Guardian and the B3 blog will be watching.
Memo to readers: get your crap detectors at the ready. For starters, check the link below for the latest MediaNews SEC filing. B3