David Lawrence Jr. Named Miami Herald Publisher

Knight-Ridder Inc. has named Detroit Free Press publisher and chairman, David Lawrence Jr., as publisher and chairman of the Miami Herald, succeeding Richard G. Capen Jr.

Capen was named vice chairman of parent Knight-Ridder. Free Press President Robert J. Hall will succeed Lawrence as publisher and chairman of the Detroit newspaper, the nation’s 10th largest.

The appointments are effective Sept. 1, said P. Anthony Ridder, president of Miami-based Knight-Ridder’s newspaper division.

Capen, a director of the Newspaper Advertising Bureau, has been publisher of the Herald since 1983. He joined Knight-Ridder in 1979 as senior vice president for operations and previously was an executive with Copley Newspapers.


Lawrence, 47, came to the Free Press as executive editor in 1978 and has been publisher and chairman since 1985. He previously was executive editor of the Charlotte Observer.

Lawrence has headed the Free Press during its struggle since 1986 for a cost-cutting joint operating agreement with the Detroit News, owned by Gannett Co.

“I would not go if I were not confident of Knight-Ridder’s commitment to this newspaper,” he said.

Knight-Ridder Chairman Alvah Chapman has said repeatedly that the company would close the 158-year-old Free Press if the merger attempt failed.


The U.S. Supreme Court said in May it would review the joint operating agreement request. A ruling on the limited antitrust exemption for the two newspapers is expected next year.

The Herald has a smaller circulation than the Free Press but is a traditional Knight-Ridder profit center esteemed in the organization, said John Morton, newspaper analyst with Lynch Jones & Ryan.

The Herald faces strong competition in areas such as Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach while Spanish-language newspapers are vying for readers in Miami, Morton said.

The Detroit News, the nation’s ninth-largest newspaper, and the Free Press, seek government permission to merge business operations while keeping editorial operations separate.


According to Audit Bureau of Circulation figures for Sept. 30, 1988, the most recent available, the Herald has a circulation of 449,159 daily and 499,515 Sunday, while the Free Press has a daily circulation of 629,065 and Sunday circulation of 710,112.