Bruce Brugmann’s Bay Guardian says in an editorial about the proposed sale of Knight Ridder’s Merc and CCTimes to Media News, “The implications are staggering. The deal sets the scene for an unprecedented level of local media consolidation — and could lead to a scenario in which all the business, advertising, and even editorial functions of almost every Bay Area daily would be run out of one central office …”
“It’s clear that the Internet has made daily newspapers less powerful and less essential,” the Guardian’s editorial continues. “But in the Bay Area (and in most of the country) there’s simply no Web alternative that can do the work of a daily paper. Real watchdog journalism requires a staff — reporters to go to meetings, to challenge politicians, to stay on top of City Hall — and so far, nobody’s found a financial model that allows that to happen purely online.”
The Guardian says it’s time to ask candidates where they stand on the deal. Phil Angelides, who is running for governor, “didn’t seem to know much about it until we clued him in, but he said he was ‘concerned.’ He needs to do better: A strong statement opposing the deal would be a good start,” the Guardian said. Steve Westly, who is also running, supported a Merc employee buyout of the paper, but hasn’t said the deal should be derailed.
The Guardian urges every city in the Bay Area to take a stand on the deal too, “starting with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which should hold hearings and pass a resolution demanding that Lockyer block the deal.”
The Guardian also notes that several members of Congress from the Bay Area sent the Justice Department a letter that is critical of the deal, but not Nancy Pelosi or Tom Lantos. Neither Pelosi nor Lantos has gotten back to the Guardian to explain why they didn’t sign it.