11/15/2006 - One major trend of the last year is the emergence of private, local ownership groups returning to a prominent place in the newspaper industry. It appears that in several cities these private interests value newspapers more highly than the publicly traded equity markets, such as shareholders on the New York Stock Exchange.
The most dramatic recent case is in Los Angeles, where several groups are now interested in buying the Los Angeles Times, or in some cases its parent, the Tribune Co. Private owners or aspiring ones also have emerged in Boston, Hartford, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Akron and elsewhere.
For the most part, however, these new private buyers are different than the patriarchal local publishers of the past. People like music mogul David Geffen in Los Angeles, or former General Electric CEO Jack Welch in Boston, made their mark and their fortune in other businesses. In this sense, they are similar to modern owners of sports teams, rich folk who then enter into the sports ownership business as a second act in life. That is a departure from the earlier newspaper patriarchs, such Adolph Ochs, Joseph Pulitzer or E.W. Scripps, for whom journalism—and the tough-minded independence of the news—were the source of both their fortunes and their legacies.
Go to journalism.org for a rundown of the different private groups who have either bought or are seeking to buy papers in 2006.