San Francisco's Latest Media Convergence; the Alliance of the Gate, the Chronicle Papers and KRON-TV Is Now Challenged by a New Alliance of Sic Knight Ridder Newspapers, Their Web Sites and KPIX-TV

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The alliance of the Gate, the Chronicle papers and KRON-TV is now challenged by a new alliance of six Knight Ridder newspapers, their Web sites and KPIX-TV

In the second such alliance to form in the San Francisco metro market, a newspaper company and a TV station have agreed to share content and cross-market across their print, Web and broadcast operations.

Knight Ridder properties, the San Jose Mercury News and the five dailies from Contra Costa Newspapers are now partnering with CBS Television's KPIX Channel 5 to serve Silicon Valley, San Francisco's East Bay and the city of San Francisco.

The organizations' new cross-marketing alliance is similar to that established 16 months ago by the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner newspapers, the local NBC TV affiliate KRON and the Gate Web site. The Chronicle and Examiner are both operated by the Chronicle Publishing Co., which acquired full ownership of the Gate in 1997.

The new Knight Ridder/KPIX partnership now uses the broadcast outlet to preview the newspapers' next day's headlines. Meanwhile, newspaper staffers appear occasionally on newscasts, offering viewers expert analysis on specific topics. In turn, the television program enhances the papers' online news sites, Mercury Center and Hot CoCo, by incorporating audio and video clips of news, sports and weather coverage.

"We expect our new partnership to equal more than the sum of its parts,' said Jay T. Harris, chairman and publisher of the Mercury News. "The residents of Silicon Valley and the Bay area are the real winners in this deal, since the new relationship will provide news consumers whether they're reading the paper, watching television, or going online -- with more comprehensive and sophisticated coverage."

Jerry Eaton, vice president and general manager of KPIX, echoed Harris' view, saying that the new partnership enables KPIX to expand their coverage. "We're pleased that information from the Mercury News and Contra Costa Newspapers enriches our newscasts," he said.

Web sites termed `vital'

According to Daniel Webster, news director of KPIX, the partners' Web sites are vital in providing the enhanced coverage. Pointing out that while broadcast television can launch a dialogue about a specific issue, newspapers are able to provide deeper coverage. "The Internet is a very important component of this: The kind of thoroughness that the Mercury News or the Contra Costa Times can provide to a dialogue on an issue in an Internet or newspaper environment is greater than broadcast television is ever going to be able to do," he said. "And I think that it will ultimately lead to a better civic dialogue -- and having a society where people try and find solutions to problems is healthy for the democratic process and, coincidentally, healthy for primary providers of information -- which are newspapers and television."

Deny competitive motivation

Eaton and Harris denied that their decision to join forces was a response to high-profile success of the Gate partnership with the Chronicle and KRON in the same metropolitan market.

"It really had nothing to do with the Chronicle," Harris said. "It was something that grew out of our mutual interests" He said KPIX was interested in strengthening its position in the Silicon Valley and the East Bay. …