A couple of years ago there was a newspaper war in Los Gatos, an upscale community of 28,000 west of San Jose. The hard-charging Los Gatos Daily News (led by Christina Bellantoni, now a Washington muckraker) was battling the equally independent Los Gatos Weekly Times. The San Jose Mercury News was trying to “out local the locals.” The three newsrooms battled for the hearts and minds of West Valley readers.
That changed in 2005 when the Merc’s parent company, Knight Ridder, bought the Palo Alto Daily News group, which included the Los Gatos Daily News. Eight months later, KR bought the parent company of the Los Gatos Weekly, Silicon Valley Community Newspapers, headed by David Cohen. The three papers are now held by the California Newspaper Partnership, a majority of which is owned by Dean Singleton’s Denver-based MediaNews Group. A few months ago, MediaNews cut the Los Gatos Daily back to three days a week and renamed it the “Los Gatos News.”
Now the online Los Gatos Observer is lamenting what has become of local news coverage. “Apparently, it makes economic sense to the executives in Denver that Los Gatos should have two weak newspapers instead of a single paper with a strong local focus,” the Observer writes. “If you, as a reader, have a problem with the way the Weekly Times is run, do you think that Mr. Singleton will listen?”