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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Today is the Day: Update on Knight Ridder Bid Process

Ownership of the News Sentinel and the majority interest in Fort Wayne Newspapers is on the auction block today. You'd think that might rate a front page story in either of the Fort Wayne's two daily newspapers.

You won't see that, though.

Heck, you won't even see Tracy Warner or Leo Morris comment on this fact on their respective weblogs unless one of them sees this post and feels compelled to write something.

This doesn't disturb Indiana Parley or Fort Wayne Observed very much. However, it should effect the editors and managers at the newspapers themselves.

Why? The reason is that the decision to largely ignore the topic affects the credibilty of every other story the newspapers will cover in the future.

Editors and managers are probably correct in their apparent judgment that the average reader doesn't care very much about the interior workings of the newspaper business. However, the community's opinion leaders do care.

These opinion leaders are not just folks in the business, academic and political communities in Fort Wayne. There are quite a few other people whose views are respected by family and friends. These are long-time subscribers who have always believed in the importance of the newspapers as institutions serving the community.

Today is the deadline for bids to be received by McClatchy for the remaining 6 Knight Ridder newspapers unwanted by McClatchy in its purchase of Knight Ridder.

The Duluth News Tribune reports on the prospective buyers for that newspaper. The Duluth story indicates that Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Company, based in California, is expected to bid on all of the remaining 6 dailies.

However, Gloria Irwin, who wrote a story published in today's Akron Beacon Journal, talked with independent newspaper analyst John Morton who casts doubt as to whether Yucaipa's bid would include the News Sentinel. She wrote:
Yucaipa, a private equity firm based in California, is allied with The Newspaper Guild, the union that represents employees at some of the newspapers.

``I doubt whether Yucaipa will be interested in those that don't have a heavy union concentration,'' Morton said.

Of the six, three are unionized. They are the Beacon Journal, the Duluth News Tribune in Minnesota and the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota.

The nonunion newspapers are the Aberdeen American News in South Dakota, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader in Pennsylvania and the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel in Indiana.

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