Tuesday, April 15, 2008

There goes the newspaper neighborhood

A lot of liberal bloggers may be wringing their hands about Rupert Murdoch being elected to the Associated Press board of directors, but as an ink-stained wretch/member of the Fourth Estate myself, I can tell them their concerns, while not necessarily overblown, are too narrow.

Among other new board members? Donna J. Barrett, president and chief executive officer of Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. CHNI is the “Chainsaw Al” of small-town daily newspaper operations. They buy a newspaper, or small group thereof, and immediately attempt to recoup their money ASAP.

Of course, Dean Singleton, already on the board, and his MediaNews, aren’t exactly a gem of newspaper ownership either. After all, it was Deano who asked Barack Obama if he planned to do more to fight Obama bin Laden. It may have been an accident, but I wouldn’t be so sure.

If you want to know more about Deano (disclosure – I worked at one of his papers in the late 1990s), all you need is the quote below from this NYT story:
“Mr. Singleton, 54, a bantam figure with flinty blue eyes, is indeed thought of as something of a magician in the newspaper world — having transformed himself from the son of a ranch hand in a tiny town in Texas to a media baron who now controls a newspaper empire that sprawls from coast to coast,” the Times adds. “He has, in a manner of speaking, sawed many of his competitors in half, only to have them hop off the table and become his partners.”

But, don’t underestimate him, says John McManus from San Jose State’s j-school:
“He aspires to be a mogul in the ranks of Pulitzer and the Hearst of old, and I think he's going to achieve it.”

Trust me, Rupert Murdoch isn’t really an “outlier” here.

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