Paradise Post-mortem

Another independent newspaper about to sell out to a giant corporate chain

IS THE POST TOAST?<br>The Paradise Post and printing shop on Clark Road in Paradise is reportedly about to sell to MediaNews, the huge Denver-based corporation that has been buying up small-community papers in California in recent years.

The Paradise Post and printing shop on Clark Road in Paradise is reportedly about to sell to MediaNews, the huge Denver-based corporation that has been buying up small-community papers in California in recent years.

Photo By Tom Angel

Another brick in the wall:
MediaNews also owns the Oakland Tribune, The Daily Review in Hayward, the Tri-Valley Herald in Pleasanton, The Argus in Fremont, the Alameda Times-Star, the Marin IJ and the San Mateo County Times.

The Paradise Post, one of the last truly independent newspapers in Northern California, is being sold to Denver-based MediaNews, the seventh-largest newspaper chain in America and the owner of the Chico Enterprise-Record, the Oroville Mercury-Register and the Red Bluff Daily News.

Post officials are not commenting. However, a spokesman for MediaNews said the deal could be wrapped up by next week.

“They are still in the middle of due diligence,” said Jody Lodovic. “We won’t have anything to say about it until early next week.”

MediaNews will also buy the Paradise Post printing company, a profitable business that supported the Post and prints papers from across Northern California, including this one, and the Bay Guardian, the vanguard of West Coast alternative papers and one of the Post’s biggest customers.

MediaNews is owned by William Dean Singleton, a frequent target of media critics who lament the trend of corporate chain ownership of newspapers.

The Post has been owned by Rowland Rebele and Lowell Blankfort for the past 20 years. Employees of the Post said they have heard rumors for the last few years but were always assured the owners would not sell to Singleton.

Both Post owners are greatly respected in the business. Rebele has long been a big supporter of the California First Amendment Coalition, which fights for the press’s publishing rights, while Blankfort is an old-school, ink-stained newspaper man who adopted the old adage that a paper’s duty was to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

The paper and printing press, which employ more than 100, reportedly sold for just under $10 million. The sale comes on the heels of MediaNews’ purchase of the Vacaville Reporter six months ago. The company is reportedly ready to purchase the Napa Valley Register as well.

There is no word yet on what will happen to the Post—whether it will continue as a separate, three-days-a-week paper or be folded in with the Enterprise-Record, sharing classifieds and certain sections of the paper, as is the case with the Oroville Mercury-Register.

Linda Meilink, longtime editor of the Post who left a year ago to take a job in Florida, confirmed news of the sale.

“I’d heard they wanted it done by the 15th [of January], but they had to inventory everything,” Meilink said. “Insiders all say it’s a done deal.”

She said she was sorry to see the paper scooped up the huge corporate chain.

“I’m deeply, deeply saddened by the owners’ decision to sell,” she said. “The Post was a unique, exciting, feisty paper. It’ll never be that way again.”

Wolf Rosenberg, publisher of the Enterprise-Record, insisted the deal was not yet complete.

“You know there is a lot of talk, but it ain’t a done deal,” he said. “Until I can get some more information it is really too early to speculate. They haven’t handed over the keys yet.”

Calls to Post co-owner Rebele, who lives in Aptos, and Post Publisher Randy Goldberg were not returned by press time.

MediaNews buys papers in one area because, according to the company’s Web page, that allows for consolidation of management, accounting and production departments. One advertising representative sells ad space for a number of papers.

“As a result of clustering, MediaNews believes that the newspapers it manages are able to obtain higher operating margins than they would otherwise be able to achieve on a stand-alone basis,” according to the company’s Web site.

The company also owns papers in the Rocky Mountain region—the Denver Post is its flagship paper—and throughout the Northeast. All together, the company operates 49 daily newspapers in 10 states and a television station, a CBS affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska, and radio stations in Texas.

The Post was established in 1945.