January 16, 2015 Last Updated 8:03 am

Children of newspaper owner ask for bigger share of inheritance; DFM carve up to begin soon

Morning Brief: Boy who authored Christian bestseller with his father recants story – he didn’t die and go to heaven – Chicagoland publisher withdraws book

The children of billionaire newspaper owner Richard Mellon Scaife, the publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, are working with attorneys to secure a larger share of the inheritance, following his death in July. Attorneys claim that too much of the publisher’s wealth was wasted in efforts to compete against the paper’s rival, the Post-Gazette.

The children inherited a $1 million per month stipend, but that is too little they say. Scaife’s mother was an heir a fortune that included the Mellon Bank and major stakes in Gulf Oil and Alcoa aluminum. But attorneys say that too much of the family’s wealth was spent in a newspaper war with the Post-Gazette which “caused him to spend enormous sums to fulfill his intention to put the Post-Gazette out of business,” attorneys said in their filing.

More: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

CCT-front-featureKen Doctor has a good rundown on the impending sale of Digital First Media assets at NiemanLab. Up for grabs are newspaper properties in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area markets, as well as clusters in the northeastern and midwestern, as well as the Denver Post. The newspaper chain is the combination of the Journal Register Company and MediaNews Group, founded by Dean Singleton.

It is unlikely that one buyer will pick up the whole thing, though if it happens it will most likely be a sale to another private equity firm (the current owner is Alden Global Capital).

But even if the chain is broken up into separate acquisitions, many of those acquisitions will be funded by private equity backers. More and more, the newspaper industry mirrors that of the B2B magazine industry, where most of the players are PE firms, and the results have been a disaster for industry professionals (but generally lucrative for the investment firms and the executives brought in to manage the investments).

(I worked for several of the newspapers involved the sale, though not while either DFM or MediaNewsGroup were the owners.)

Tyndale House announced that it will stop selling The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven by Alex Malarkey and Kevin Malarkey, the boy’s father. It turns out, shock, that the boy made the whole thing up. Who would have guessed?

Boy-front-featureTyndale House, headquartered in Carol Stream, Illinois, is a publisher of Christian books. The book in question became a NYT bestseller and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from readers of such books.

The story is a sad one: “In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered an horrific car accident,” the publisher’s description states. “The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex–and medically speaking, it was unlikely that he could survive. ‘I think Alex has gone to be with Jesus,’ a friend told the stricken dad. But two months later, Alex awoke from a coma with an incredible story to share.”

But the boy had a change of heart and has recanted his story. “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven,” Alex Malarkey wrote in an open letter.

“I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough.”

“Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough,” Malarkey said.

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