Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Knight Foundation & Newspaper Dynasty's Hidden History--Part 2

“A $200,000 grant proposal, submitted by a group of Indymedia volunteers to the Knight News Challenge contest, has been blocked by other IMCs and subsequently dropped due to the abiding ethos that Indymedia is a counter to corporate, money-fixated media entities. The grant application to the Knight Foundation was to fund technical development work for Independent Media Centres (IMCs)…

“The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation describes itself as "an American private, non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting journalism and supporting the vitality of 26 communities" where the Knight Brothers owned newspapers….In 1974, Knight Newspapers merged with Ridder Publications to create Knight-Ridder Inc., at the time the largest newspaper company in the US. Lee Hills, former president of Knight Newspapers, became Knight-Ridder chairman and CEO. Its trustees include Paul E. Steiger, the former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and a vice president at Dow Jones & Company. Until it was bought by The McClatchy Company in June 2006, Knight-Ridder was the second-largest newspaper publisher in the US, with 32 daily newspapers...”
(Corporate Watch UK and www.leftgatekeepers.com sites)

After C.I. Knight died in 1933, his then-39-year-old son—John “Jack” S. Knight—inherited the Knight Dynasty’s Akron Beacon-Journal and the Massillon Independent (which had been purchased in 1928 with the money the Knight family obtained from selling its Springfield Sun newspaper after C.I. Knight’s defeat in the Ohio gubernatorial election) in Ohio. Current Biography 1945 described how John S. Knight then managed to increase the profitability and special influence of his family’s business during the Great Depression:

“Extending his newspaper holdings, Knight bought the Miami (Florida) Herald in October 1937 for $2 million. Two months later he arranged to trade his Massillon Independent for the Miami Tribune which he then discontinued. (He had purchased it with the intention of suspending publication, for he felt there was no room in Miami for three papers). Thus, the publisher of the Herald became the owner of the only Miami morning daily…In 1938 he eliminated competition to the Beacon-Journal by buying out the Scripps-Howard Times Press. In this way Knight achieved a press monopoly in Akron, making the city and its suburbs `the largest one-paper community in the country.’”

At the same time he was shutting down previously-competing newspapers and using media monopolization techniques to increase the profitability of his family’s newspaper chain, John S. Knight was also serving as a member of the Summit County Republican Party Executive Committee in Ohio, and was complaining about “New Deal spending and labor philosophy,” according to the 1989 book Knight: A Publisher In The Tumultuous Century by Charles Whited.

In 1940, John S. Knight then dished out $3.1 million to add the Detroit Free Press to the family’s chain and in 1944 another $2.1 million was dished out to add the Chicago Daily News to the family’s stable, until it was re-sold in 1959 for $24 million to Marshal Field Jr.. In 1954, the Charlotte Observer was added to the Knight newspaper chain for $7 million and in 1959 the previously competing Charlotte News was also added. In 1965, the Tallahassee Democrat in Florida was also purchased.

By 1968, the Knight Dynasty’s newspapers’ combined daily circulation in Detroit, Miami, Charlotte, Akron and Tallahassee approached 1.5 million and “The Knights also had interests in a TV station, three radio stations, and three Florida weekly papers,” as well as a gross annual income of about $123 million (in 1960s money), according to Knight. The following year, the Knight family purchased the chain’s Philadelphia newspaper for $55 million and immediately replaced 70 Philadelphia Inquirer reporters and editors. And in 1972, the Knight Dynasty dished out another $37 million ot buy yet another newspaper operation which some other family had built: the Lexington Herald & Leader in Kentucky. (end of part 2)

(Downtown 9/15/93)

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