The Daily News (Palo Alto) to become a weekly paper; rest of chain waits word on sale
Sales of the Digital First Media chain, which includes choice properties in Northern California, should come in a matter of weeks as private equity firms circle
The Daily News in Palo Alto, California, will stop producing a daily edition and become a weekly newspaper, its publisher announced today. The MediaNews Group paper, part of Digital First Media, used to be called The Palo Alto Daily News, but in 2009 it was incorporated into other Daily News papers and became a five day a week free newspaper. Before today’s announcement, the paper published Wednesday, Friday and Saturday editions.
As part of the transition to a free weekly, to occur on Friday, March 20, the paper will become a tabloid.
“We will be tripling our reach and will focus on home delivery,” said publisher David Rounds. “The redesigned tabloid-size newspaper will provide the same quality writing and editing our readers have come to expect, and we will be tightly focused on the local news and sports that is so important to Peninsula residents.”
Launched in 1995, the paper was eventually picked up by Knight-Ridder, then when McClatchy bought Knight-Ridder it turned around and sold the Bay Area group of papers to Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group. Singleton already owned a group of East Bay newspapers, but the acquisition gave MediaNews Group properties in San Jose and what was former Lesher Communications in Contra Costa Country.
The paper’s changes won’t end with today’s announcement. The entire Digital First Media portfolio, owned by the private equity firm Alden Global Capital is up for sale, with two other PEs – Cerberus Capital Management and Apollo Global Management – rumored to be interested.
The Bay Area, despite its high incomes and education levels, has been a bit of a black hole for newspapers for decades, famously the butt of a joke in the film All The President’s Men. But in the ’90s, Knight-Ridder’s San Jose Mercury News was one of the most successful papers in the country, riding the wave of Silicon Valley during the Internet boom. In the East Bay, Dean Lesher’s newspapers dominated Contra Costa County. But after his death in 1993, the papers which included the Contra Costa Times were sold to Knight-Ridder. A little over ten years later the whole group was sold to MediaNews Group, a newspaper chain known for slashing costs. In 2000, the Hearst Corporation, which had owned the struggling San Francisco Examiner was able o buy the Chronicle and sell off the Examiner to the Fang Family.
Note: I once worked for Hearst (in Los Angeles) and Lesher Communications in the Bay Area.