American Journalism Review senior writer Charles Layton tries to shed some light on why Hearst Corp., owner of the Chronicle, would invest in Dean Singleton’s MediaNews, the company that is acquiring virtually all of the Bay Area’s newspapers except the Chron. “Why Hearst would help to finance a deal that benefits a major competitor — to the apparent disadvantage of one of its own papers — remains a mystery,” Layton says. “Is Hearst hedging against the large financial losses (up to $60 million a year) that the Chronicle has been suffering? Nobody at the Chronicle seems to know.”
Layton has a couple of good quotes from Chron editor Phil Bronstein (pictured).
• About the investment in Media News: “That was a business decision by Hearst … and I think the only people who can answer that are the people involved in the business decisions at Hearst.” A Hearst corporate spokesman declined to comment to AJR.
• About competing against Singleton: “[Editorially] we’re very pleased that Dean Singleton is going to own these properties, because we feel that the issue of quality will distinguish us even further. There are some things he might do at those papers that will make them less valuable rather than more valuable. We see opportunities here.”