Paper Losses: A Modern Epic of Greed and Betrayal at America's Two Largest Newspaper Companies

Bryan Gruley, Author Grove/Atlantic $23 (448p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1402-0
In this emblematic, worrisome and involving account, Gruley, a reporter for the Detroit News Washington bureau, describes how the Gannett Company and Knight-Ridder, owners of the country's two largest newspaper chains, tried to end the competition between their Detroit papers. Gannett, which dominated in the small-town market, had only recently acquired the conservative Detroit News . Knight-Ridder, which included the Philadelphia Inquirer and Miami Herald in its empire, owned the more liberal Free Press . In a strategy to regain dwindling readership and advertisers, the companies in 1986 proposed to form the Joint Operating Agency under which they would merge business operations but maintain separate editorial units. The JOA passed muster with the Justice Department, but protest groups challenged the arrangement until in 1989 the Supreme Court ruled the JOA was legal. Gruley provides deft sketches of the personalities involved as well as accounts of the legal battles and corporate maneuverings. He pulls no punches in discussing his boss, Gannett chairman Al Neuharth, whom he shows to be a hard-driving, vain dealmaker. He also empathetically presents the plight of staff members who worked under Knight-Ridder's threats to shut down the Free Press if the JOA was not approved. Ironically, the papers, according to the author, continue to hemorrhage money despite the JOA takeover--and still face the uncertainty of survival. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993
Release date: 10/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
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