Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Morning Briefs: WSJ says MediaNews Group eyes mergers; minonline looks at a B2B magazine's iPad app

The WSJ's Russell Adams reported late last night that the investment firm now controlling MediaNews Group is eyeing merger opportunities with other media properties such as Freedom Communications.

MediaNews is the owner of the Denver Post, Salt Lake Tribune, as well as Bay Area newspapers including the San Jose Mercury News and the Oakland Tribune.
Alden Global Capital and other financial firms now controlling the company formed by Dean Singleton is looking at the idea of merging their properties with other media entities also controlled by investors. This consolidation mirrors the ownership structure of the B2B media landscape that developed in the nineties and into the present time. In this case, Alden also owns stakes in the Philadelphia newspapers which recently were auctioned off, as well as a stake in Journal Register Co.

Yesterday MediaNews announced that Dean Singleton will step down as CEO and become executive chairman of the company as representatives of the investment firm take seats on the board. "In light of the significant opportunities and challenges we and the industry are facing, our company is best served by having separate executives focus their full efforts on both the strategic landscape, and on implementing an effective plan to expand our revenue streams," Singleton, said in the company's statement.

Gordon Paris, a director at the company, will serve as Interim President while the owners conduct a search for Singleton's replacement. Paris has experience as "interim" CEO, having served in that role at Hollinger International for a while during the Conrad Black mess -- and making news for his $2 million plus compensation.

(Disclosure: I have worked for several newspapers that are now owned by MediaNews, though they were then a competitor at the time I worked there.) has a post about the B2B magazine Pharmacy Times and its iPad app. It's an honest look at the app, saying that the app is "is ambitious in its custom design, it also suffers some buggy and halting behavior," min's Steve Smith writes. "We experienced several crashes. The navigation rails are temperamental and too often pop into view without rhyme or reason. They are thick enough to block the content at times. All of the page loads are sluggish, so the actual experience of thumbing through the magazine app is less than smooth. There is an RSS reader embedded in the app, but much of the news in the feed seems rather old."