By: Lucia Moses and Joe Strupp
Two-Newspaper Competition Survives In SF
In the latest bizarre twist in a newspaper saga that continues to defy
conventional wisdom, the Hearst Corp. agreed to sell its 112-year-old
flagship San Francisco Examiner to the publishers of the San Francisco
Independent, a free, thrice-weekly paper and longtime critic of the
Under an unusual arrangement, Hearst will continue to operate the paper
and give the buyers an unspecified subsidy, said Ted Fang, the maverick
publisher of the Independent. The buyers wouldn?t get the presses or
building from Hearst. All Examiner staff would remain Hearst employees
for the time being; Fang would not be obligated to hire them. Neither
side would release a sales price.
The new owners plan to convert the Examiner to the morning cycle after
four months, and go head-to-head with the San Francisco Chronicle, which
Hearst agreed last summer to buy for $660 million. That sale is expected
to be finalized at the end of this month.
The Independent, distribution 212,000, is owned by the Fangs, a
politically prominent San Francisco family. The Independent will be
operated separately from the Examiner, Fang said.
Questions remain about the Examiner?s viability without its 35-year-old
joint operating agreement with the Chronicle: The JOA would be dissolved
as part of the sale. When Hearst announced last summer it was buying the
Chronicle and shopping the Examiner, it was widely assumed that San
Francisco would join a growing number of one-newspaper cities because no
one would want to buy a declining p.m. paper without the benefits of the
JOA. But the Fangs emerged after Hearst allowed more time to look for a
buyer under pressure from federal regulators and city officials who
protested the paper?s potential demise.
Doug Cuthbertson, executive officer of the Northern California Media
Workers Guild, said he would vigorously pursue a Guild agreement with
the Examiner after the takeover by Fang, who said he was willing to
Lucia Moses and Joe Strupp are associate editors
for Editor & Publisher magazine.
(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher