Two of California’s oldest newspapers have been sold, and a reclusive Canadian media mogul is at the heart of both deals.
We’ll look at the sales of the San Francisco Examiner and the San Diego Union-Tribune, and finish up with the sale of a smaller paper.
San Francisco Examiner sold
Once home to such legendary scribes as Mark Twain, Jack London, and Ambrose Bierce and the flagship of the Hearst chain, the 148-year-old Examiner was sold off in 2000 as part of the deal that allowed the Hearsts to buy the longtime archival San Francisco Chronicle.
The paper was bought by the Fang family of San Francisco, which made the paper a giveaway in 2003.
In 2004 the Examiner wound up in the hands of Denver-based Clarity Media, owned by Philip Anschutz, a zealous theocon and a leading funder of creationist propaganda.
Mark Harden of the Denver Business Journal reports on Anschutz’s strategy and its outcome:
The Denver billionaire distributed the San Francisco paper daily for free in high-income neighborhoods of the city and its immediate suburbs. Anschutz’s Clarity Media introduced a similar paper, the Washington Examiner, in the nation’s capital later in 2004 and followed with the Baltimore Examiner in 2006.
Clarity also trademarked the Examiner name in nearly 70 other markets, including Denver, leading to speculation that Anschutz was planning a nationwide chain of free newspapers.
But the national chain never materialized. Eventually, home delivery of the three Examiners was cut back, and the Baltimore Examiner was shut down in early 2009.
Read the rest.
Calculating the circulation of the Anschutz-era Examiner would take someone with a doctorate in statistics, given the way the paper is distributed and the lack of indepent verification. They claim [PDF] a total of 255,527 on Sundays, 199,088 on Thursdays, 101,369 on Fridays, and 75,009 Monday through Wednesday.
To boost their advertising revenues, the paper distributes its freebie only to higher-income census tracks.
Now the paper is being sold again, this time to a consortium headed by Black Press Group Ltd. of Victoria, British Columbia, which owns some 170+ papers in the U.S. and Canada, including the Akron Beacon Journal and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. According to the business website Manta, the company most recent revenue report listed an income of $113,351,680.
The new corporate owner, Canadian David Holmes Black, has managed to keep a singularly low media profile, and has largely escaped the attention of Wikipedia, which offers only a 93-word profile.
The best article we could locate is a Don Ward article in Seattle Weekly, written after Black’s takeover of a 60-paper chain of community papers in the Puget Sound region.
The Associated Press reports that the terms of the sale haven’t been disclosed, adding
Clarity CEO Ryan McKibben said it no longer made sense for the company to own the Examiner, its only newspaper on the West Coast. The publisher is now focusing its resources on the Washington, D.C. market and its recent acquisition of The Oklahoman newspaper, he said.
“In Black Press we found a publisher with a successful track record, and a strong commitment to highly localized reporting,” McKibben said.
David Black, president of the company based in Victoria, British Columbia, said: “We are delighted to become involved with such a strong newspaper. Readership is second to none in San Francisco and on the peninsula.”
The deal is expected to close on Nov. 30.
Read the rest.
Buying one California paper, Black Group sells another
When ensl first started reporting in the Golden State back in 1968, San Diego had two newspapers, the Union and the Tribune, both owned by the mossback conservative Copley family.
The papers were later consolidated into a single entity, then sold by the Copleys to a private equity firm, Platinum Equity, in 2009.
Now the paper — with a weekday circulation of 218,614 at last report — has been sold again, this time to a company owned by another mossback who was a major funder of Proposition 8, the successful statewide ballot initiative to ban gay marriage, as noted in this from the New York Times report on the sale:
The Manchester Financial Group, its Web site says, has a range of investments including two of the largest hotels in the United States: the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego and the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina. Mr. Manchester’s hotels were the target of a boycott in 2008 over his $125,000 donation to support a ballot initiative in California to prohibit same-sex marriage in the state.
And now for the sale. First up, the story on the sale from Ron Davis of voiceofsandiego.org
Hotelier Doug Manchester bought the San Diego Union-Tribune on Thursday, returning the paper to local ownership in a sale that would appear to turn a big profit for a private equity firm that bought it two years ago.
In a brief interview, Manchester said he paid “above” $110 million for Continue reading