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San Gabriel Valley Papers to Merge Some Units

Times Staff Writer

The San Gabriel Valley Daily Tribune and the Pasadena Star-News, the two major suburban daily newspapers in the San Gabriel Valley, announced Wednesday an agreement to combine key parts of their business operations under a single management.

Under the agreement, a new company named the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Management Co. will oversee the joint business operations of the papers, including advertising sales, newsprint purchases and administration of employee benefit plans and insurance, according to a notice sent to employees.

The new company will contract with the two existing newspaper companies for those services, but will not oversee other operations of the companies.

“By centralizing activities, the new management company will permit each of the newspapers to operate more efficiently and effectively and better serve their readers,” said William Dean Singleton, the Texas newspaper executive who bought the Star-News for $55 million in June.

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The agreement apparently also will cover the Whittier Daily News, which is owned by the Tribune, and Foothill Intercity Newspapers, owned by Singleton’s company. The Foothill newspapers are the Arcadia Tribune, Temple City Times, Monrovia News-Post and The Duartean.

Star-News Publisher William R. Applebee said the editorial staffs of the newspapers will remain separate, but he added there may be some editorial cooperation between the papers in the future.

Applebee said he believes that the papers could benefit by sharing stories produced by their staffs. “It’s a logical step,” he said.

Applebee said there would be no staff layoffs at the Star-News. F. Al Totter, publisher of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, could not be reached for comment.

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Totter was named president and chief operating officer of the new organization, according to the employee notice. Singleton will be chairman of the new company.

The arrangement could break new ground in the newspaper industry. “I’ve never heard of anything like it,” said Ken Noble, a media analyst with the brokerage firm Paine Webber.

Noble said the agreement could provide some savings for the papers but he questioned whether it would be allowed under antitrust laws. Justice Department officials couldn’t be reached Wednesday.

Employees at the Star-News and the Tribune expressed surprised at the unexpected agreement between the two competitors in the San Gabriel Valley.

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“What does it mean? No one seems to know yet,” said Michael Gougis, Pasadena city hall reporter for the Star-News. “It’s a new concept for us. We’ve always viewed the Tribune as competitors.”

When staff members at the Tribune asked if the editorial product would be separate, a newspaper official said the organization would continue to compete in the Foothill communities of Duarte and Azusa.

“But if there’s a big story in Pasadena, then (the Star-News) reporter’s story will run here,” one reporter said the staff was told.

The Tribune, part of the Thomson Newspaper Group, has a daily circulation of 60,000 papers. Its primary circulation area extends from Rosemead east to Pomona.

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The Star-News, which has a daily circulation of 38,000, covers Pasadena and its surrounding west San Gabriel communities.


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