News publisher MediaNews Group has emerged as a candidate to buy Knight Ridder, an elite U.S. newspaper chain, a source said.
The interest by MNG came to light after CEO Dean Singleton was spotted inspecting the offices of the San Jose Mercury News, which is owned by Knight Ridder, according to a witness of the San Jose visit.
MNGs apparent interest in buying Knight Ridder could have a significant impact on enterprises. The combo, for instance, could force some businesses to rethink where to advertise, and what type of technology is used to do so.
Publicly-traded Knight Ridder, publisher of The Miami Herald, The Philadelphia Inquirer and 30 other papers, put itself up for sale in mid-November to "increase shareholder value". Goldman, Sachs & Co. is handling the sale, but the Knight Ridder has said nothing else since.
MNG, which is privately owned, is made up of 40 daily newspapers in nine states. The best-known of MNGs papers are the Denver Post, awarded a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, and the Los Angeles Daily News.
The two newspaper chains have differing views about the Internet, presenting an area in which the mixture becomes rather volatile.
Knight Ridder has significant investment in the Internet, having been among the first of the nations elite newspaper publishers to follow the flow of advertising dollars online.
Meanwhile, MNG has a reputation for buying ailing papers and cutting costs and staff to stop the bleeding. Also, its Internet sites have so far played a secondary role in the company.
A strong Web site is going to become vital if even more people go online to get their news for now and the foreseeable future, predict publishing analysts.
But MNGs barebones approach threatens to throttle the significant funding necessary to maintain elite news sites like that of The Mercury News.
Thats good news for Internet search engines or community-driven sites like Craigslist, which are predicted to lure even more advertising spending away from newspapers specifically.
Knight Ridder spokesman Polk Laffoon declined to comment. An MNG representative didnt immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.