News Foes May End San Francisco Feud, Merging Two Papers

By Daniel Sneider, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 3, 1996 | Go to article overview

News Foes May End San Francisco Feud, Merging Two Papers


Daniel Sneider, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


For generations, one of America's most internecine newspaper wars has been waged in the streets of San Francisco, fueled by a long-standing rivalry between two old newspaper families.

But both sides may finally be ready to deal, with the result that the afternoon Examiner - in its heyday a flagship of the Hearst dynasty - would close up shop. If so, San Francisco would join the ever-growing ranks of one-newspaper cities.

According to published but unconfirmed reports, both sides would jointly own the morning newspaper. Under terms of the reported agreement, the DeYoung family, owner of the morning Chronicle, would turn over control of the combined paper to the Hearst Corporation, owner of the Examiner. The DeYoungs, however, would retain a majority share of the paper.

The talks are yet another chapter in a saga of this city's often-nasty newspaper wars. In keeping with the tangled nature of this drama, the 20-odd descendants of the DeYoung family who hold shares in the Chronicle company are themselves deeply divided. According to industry sources, Nan McEvoy, the family's largest shareholder, called a newsroom meeting at the Chronicle on Tuesday to deny that there would be any impending deal that would turn over control to their longtime foes, the Hearsts.

Ms. McEvoy has long favored retaining family control over the paper and played a key role in improving the paper's tattered reputation as a lightweight broadsheet. But McEvoy was ousted from control of the family corporation last year by an opposing faction that favors selling off the family assets, which include newspapers, television stations, a book company, and a cable company sold only recently.

Officials of both papers have so far refused to publicly comment on the report of an imminent deal published last Saturday by the San Jose Mercury News. But according to an informed source, Chronicle chief executive John Sias is currently holding talks in New York with Hearst. Even if an agreement is reached, the Chronicle board, made up of family members, may reject it, the source suggests.

Prospects of a merger have prompted the unions representing more than 2,000 workers at the two papers to ask San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to convene a meeting to discuss the papers' fate. …

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