Connecticut Tribune workers beware.
The company has sought a buyer for the 2 papers since it's deal with Gannett was torpedoed in March. Now Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, looking to expand its Denver-based empire, is showing interest in 2 more papers in Connecticut. (He owns 21 newspapers in NE — 8 in CT).
But MediaNews' offer was met with a complaint filed with the state attorney general by a competitor that owns The Hour in Norwalk and weekly papers in Stamford.
Brett L. Whitton, president of The Hour Publishing Co., wrote in a letter to Attorney General Richard Blumenthal that MediaNews made an offer to buy the two newspapers from Tribune Co. Whitton said he was concerned that a sale would give an "unfair competitive advantage" to MediaNews in southwestern Connecticut.We strongly encourage workers at The Advocate and The Time to be aware of MediaNews' "clustering" strategy and the negative impact that strategy is having at the papers it snatches up. In the San Francisco Bay area, the regrouping of MediaNews papers and consolidation of numerous operations in the past year has resulted in the elimination of at least 280 jobs (another 50 ad production jobs were outsourced to India) and the dilution of the unique character of coverage at each paper.
"The purpose of this letter is to make you aware of this potential acquisition and to request you investigate whether this transaction would violate any federal or state anti-trust legislation," Whitton wrote.
Whitton said that MediaNews could put The Hour out of business and become a monopoly, leaving southwestern Connecticut with only one newspaper company for local news and advertising.
"There would be left but one daily newspaper ownership voice in Fairfield County," he wrote.
In a recent Editor & Publisher story Rachele Kanigel, a journalism instructor at San Francisco State University and a former Tribune reporter, said "It is one big newspaper group that doesn't really serve any of its communities adequately. I am very concerned." ("A Lock on the Bay?" by Joe Strupp. October 1. Available by subscription only.)
A major component of the "clustering" strategy in California was to move work from the union papers to non-union papers, eliminate jobs and reduce union membership to minority status.
Check out The Newspaper Guild's OneBigBang for information on Singleton's MediaNews and the "clustering" situation in California — from the workers' perspective. (end of post)