Billionaire oilman Phil Anschutz is shutting down his Examiner in Baltimore, but will keep its Washington and San Francisco editions open, his company announced. At one time, the Examiner had plans to open editions all over the country, but development of the free daily chain never went further than three cities.
The last edition of the Baltimore Examiner will be Feb. 15, according to this story on the Web site of the rival Baltimore Sun. About 90 people will lose their jobs.
Ryan McKibben, head of Anschutz’s Examiner chain, sent this letter to his employees in San Francisco to reassure them in the wake of the news from Baltimore:
- TO: Employees of the San Francisco Examiner
FROM: Ryan McKibben, CEO Clarity Media Group
DATE: January 29, 2009
Today I met with employees of the Baltimore Examiner to explain that Clarity Media Group had reached the unfortunate conclusion that it must close the Baltimore newspaper. This very difficult decision comes after several months of very active, but unsuccessful efforts to find a buyer for the newspaper.
I am personally writing the employees of the San Francisco Examiner because I want you to know precisely why we took this action and to reassure you about the future of your newspaper and other Clarity Media Group operations.
In more than thirty months since we launched the Baltimore Examiner it has developed into an able newspaper organization. However, one of the primary business assumptions that drove establishing a Baltimore paper – that we could develop strong revenue synergies between Baltimore Examiner and the Washington Examiner – did not materialize to the levels we had projected.
We have been patient investors for almost two and one-half years; however, as this nation fell into a deep and serious recession, it became clear to us that the projected revenue synergies that were a key ingredient in our business plan would not be realized in the foreseeable future. As I told our Baltimore colleagues, without significant synergies between the two markets it is not possible to maintain two major daily newspapers within a distance of 50 miles and do justice to both publications. Therefore, going forward, our concentration in this region will be on the San Francisco Examiner, and on the East Coast on the Washington Examiner.
As to the San Francisco Examiner, I want to acknowledge the success of your hard work to rebuild the Examiner into a credible and aggressive news organization. The recent shift of home delivery to two days a week while expanding single-copy circulation has also been successful. We’ve become more efficient while growing advertising revenue.
I very much appreciate your efforts and I want you to know that we intend to increase our investments in your newspaper and your Internet operations. Specifically, we’ve invested in the future of the San Francisco Examiner by making substantial upgrades to your website – including a new design and vastly improved functionality that will be launched at the end of March 2009.
Thank you for all that you do, and we look forward for many more good things coming from the San Francisco Examiner.
President & CEO