NEW DENVER JOA KICKS OFF

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By: Joel Davis

Higher Ad Rates Expected; New Executives Named


Expanded newspapers and higher advertising rates are among the
consequences of the joint operating agreement (JOA) between
The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, which
went into effect Monday.

As expected, the Denver Newspaper Agency will combine the
business functions of the two papers while keeping the editorial
functions separate. The JOA is a 50-year deal between Post
parent MediaNews and Rocky Mountain News owner E.W.
Scripps.

The Rocky Mountain News also dropped “Denver” from its
flag after adding the city name over two years ago, according to
The Associated Press.

Scripps has lost millions with the Rocky Mountain News
over the past decade, and the merger will curb the red ink it
sustained competing head-to-head for subscribers and advertisers.
Scripps on Monday was scheduled to pay MediaNews $60 million to
make the agreement a 50-50 JOA.

Both papers will maintain separate editorial departments that
will, starting the weekend of April 6, combine on weekends in
broadsheet format. The News will remain a tabloid on
weekdays.

The News will produce and print the Saturday edition. It
will co-opt many of its regular features in its current Sunday
paper and will feature its own editorial page plus one editorial
page from the Post.

The Post will publish and print the merged Sunday paper.
It will have an editorial page from the News to go along
with its own editorial page, and will include three Sunday
magazines and an expanded comics page.

Although critics of JOAs say higher ad rates are a result of
combined business operations that previously had been
competitors, Denver Newspaper Agency officials said Monday that
higher rates are justified. “Rates will increase and will better
reflect the size of our audience, the quality of the newspapers
and our household reach,” said Kirk MacDonald, president and
chief executive officer of the Denver Newspaper Agency. “We won’t
comment specifically on ad rates today because we haven’t talked
to our customers about them. Suffice to say, that Denver has had
some of the lowest major market newspaper ad rates in the United
States for obvious reasons.”

The Denver Newspaper Agency will have 2,700 employees, some with
overlapping jobs. Jobs at both the agency and the two editorial
departments are secure until 2003, with any cuts coming through
buyouts and attrition, officials said, though they declined to
speculate on job security beyond the next two years. “Any
reduction in the workforce will be through attrition,” MacDonald
said. “Beyond that, there is no way to comment 24 months out.”

The new agency also announced the creation of a combined
classifieds section that will appear in both papers starting
April 3. The section will also be available on the Internet on
April 3 at postnewsclassified.com, where it will be updated daily
and be linked to the Post and News Web sites.

In related developments Monday, MediaNews Group Vice-Chairman and
CEO William Dean Singleton announced several management changes
that will become effective Feb. 1. Joseph J. Lodovic IV, 40, will
become president of MediaNews. Lodovic, who joined the company in
1987, moves to his new position after serving as executive vice
president and chief financial officer for eight years.

Jerry Grilly, 53, will move from president and publisher of
The Denver Post to executive vice-president and chief
operating officer of MediaNews, reporting to Singleton. Grilly
will be responsible for all MediaNews newspapers except The
Denver Post and The Salt Lake Tribune, which will
report to Singleton. Grilly joined MediaNews two years ago as
publisher of the Post. Singleton will assume the role as
publisher of the Post.

Anthony F. Tierno, 56, who has served in various key capacities
at MediaNews since 1984 and has been instrumental in helping
build the company to its current level, will become senior vice
president of operations. Tierno will work closely with Grilly in
his new capacity.

Ron Mayo, 39, who has served as MediaNews Group’s vice president
of finance and controller for the past seven years, will move to
vice president and chief financial officer. Mayo joined MediaNews
in 1994 after serving for 11 years at Ernst and Young in Houston.

Scripps, meanwhile, has announced that John Temple, who led the
editorial staff of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News to its
first Pulitzer Prize in 1999, has been named president of the
newspaper, effective immediately. Temple, who also holds the
title of editor, will oversee the editorial operations of the
News and will serve as the newspaper’s top executive and
chief liaison with the newly created Denver Newspaper Agency.
Temple, 47, has been editor and vice president of the News
since 1998.

In other changes, Internet general manager Jack McElroy will
rejoin the newsroom as associate managing editor/projects. Dennis
L. Dressman, vice president/labor and human resources, will
rejoin the newsroom as associate managing editor for
administration.

The AP contributed to this report.



Joel Davis (jdavis@editorandpublisher.com) is West Coast editor for E&P.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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