The San Jose Mercury News, along with three other major former Knight Ridder newspapers, has been purchased from The McClatchy Co. by the MediaNews Group Inc. and Hearst Corp. for $1 billion in cash. The deal lets McClatchy make a $1 billion dent in the $4.5 billion debt incurred when it purchased Knight Ridder. (Link to McClatchy's news release on the sale.)
MediaNews will get the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times, and Hearst, which also owns the San Francisco Chronicle, will get the Monterey (Calif.) Herald and the St. Paul Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn. According to a story posted today on the MercuryNews.com, MediaNews also is acquiring Knight Ridder's smaller Bay Area publications, such as the Palo Alto Daily News group and the Silicon Valley Community Newspapers.
One of the largest newspaper companies in the United States, the MediaNews Group owns newspapers throughout California, the Rocky Mountain region and the Northeast.
When MediaNews Chief Executive Dean Singleton spoke to the Mercury News staff today, he was joined by Knight Ridder CEO Tony Ridder. According to the MercuryNews.com article, Singleton said:
To complete the complicated deal, the two companies will trade a couple of their current newspapers as well.
"While McClatchy may be buying Knight Ridder, we're getting the flagship and the crown jewel of Knight Ridder. I know how much Tony loves this newspaper. We will continue to make him proud as we go forward.''
Former Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor, commenting in his blog at backfence.com, called the MediaNews/Hearst deal "a smelly one" that "just reeks of possible collusion in the marketplace."