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Union pushes purchase of Mercury News

Various leaders of the Guild say their proposal to team with supermarket magnate Ron Burkle to buy the Mercury News is gaining steam now that it is more likely that their newspaper could fall into the hands of Billy Dean Singleton (pictured), according to a story by Michael Stoll of gradethenews.org.

While a Singleton acquisition of Knight Ridder’s Bay Area publications would allow his MediaNews company to dominate the region, UC Berkeley law professor Stephen Barnett says such a merger won’t trigger antitrust concerns. “That’s what’s so unfortunate about the present situation,” Barnett is quoted as saying. “There’s virtually no competitive cities left. It takes away different points of view and sources of information. The monopoly daily paper becomes virtually the only source of news on local issues.” (It appears antitrust is a bigger concern in Minnesota, where McClatchy owns the Minneapolis Star Tribune. McClatchy said in a news release that it decided spin off Knight Ridder’s St. Paul Pioneer Press because of “anticipated antitrust concerns,” according to KARE-TV and the Pioneer Press.)

Meanwhile, the Contra Costa Times says that if it were purchased by Singleton’s MediaNews, it would “unleash drastic changes for readers and employees of the publications. For example, the Knight Ridder-owned Valley Times has essentially the same circulation area as the Tri-Valley Herald, a MediaNews-owned paper …,” the Contra Costa Times story said. “That means that in order to be profitable, those papers could be combined, or one could close, [newspaper consultant Sammy] Papert said. When asked if it would be likely that MediaNews would keep open both of the Pleasanton-based papers, Papert said, ‘I hate to say it, but no.'”

[Dan Gillmor: Are we talking about a United Airlines-style employee ownership?] [Lou Alexander: Is Burkle the kind of guy the newspaper unions want to do business with?] [MSNBC: Michael Jackson turns to longtime friend Burkle for advice]

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