Big Media: 2, Little Guy: 0

February 2 2006, 8:41 PM
Score another victory for giant media conglomeration (I don't even know if that's a word, but I like it how it is). The E.W. Scripps Co. and MediaNews Group, the partners in the dreaded Joint Operation Agreement (JOA) that essentially combined the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post, are joining forces again to combine about a dozen Colorado newspapers under another JOA. Any time competition among newspapers is removed or, at the very least, significantly lessened, the big loser is always the consumer. Prices go up, and usually, quality of reporting and news goes down. From the Rocky Mountain News:
The E. W. Scripps Co. and MediaNews Group, partners in Denver, have combined all of their other Colorado newspapers in a new venture called the Colorado Publishing Co. Included in the new partnership are Boulder's Daily Camera and Colorado Daily and the twice-weekly Broomfield Enterprise, all owned by Scripps. MediaNews Group newspapers joining the partnership include the Fort Morgan Times, Journal-Advocate in Sterling and Lamar Daily News, all of which are published daily. Other MediaNews Group community newspapers in the partnership include the Akron News-Reporter, the Brush News-Tribune, The Burlington Record and the Julesburg Advocate, all published weekly, and the Estes Park Trail-Gazette, which is published twice weekly. The Colorado Publishing Co. will manage the business operations of the newspapers. Employees of the newspapers will continue to work for either Scripps or MediaNews. Scripps and MediaNews Group will each have a 50 percent share in the partnership. Financial terms were not disclosed. Scripps, owner of the Rocky Mountain News, and MediaNews, owner of the Denver Post, are 50-50 partners in the Denver Newspaper Agency, which manages the business affairs of the papers. The newsrooms remain separate and competitive.
At least in Denver we still have two newspapers, because there is some level of innate competition to keep reporters on their toes. I know what it's like when that isn't the case, and it isn't cool. I used to be a sportswriter for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which is the only paper in town. The sports section was always about five pages long, compared to the dozen or so in both the News and Post. I complained. Readers complained. But it didn't matter, because if you wanted to read the paper you didn't have a choice -- it was the Post-Dispatch or nothing. Hopefully we don't get to that point in Colorado, but the growing JOAs don't help that cause.