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Knight Ridder // was an American media company, specializing in newspaper and Internet publishing. Until it was bought by The McClatchy Company on June 27, 2006, it was the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States, with 32 daily newspapers sold. Its headquarters were located in San Jose, California.
The corporate ancestors of Knight Ridder were Knight Newspapers, Inc. and Ridder Publications, Inc. The first company was founded by John S. Knight upon inheriting control of The Akron Beacon Journal from his father, Charles Landon Knight, in 1933; the second company was founded by Herman Ridder when he acquired the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung, a German language newspaper, in 1892. As anti-German sentiment increased between the two world wars, Ridder successfully transitioned into English language publishing by acquiring the Journal of Commerce in 1926.
Both companies went public in 1969 and merged in 1974. For a brief time, the combined company was the largest newspaper publisher in the United States.
At its peak
Knight Ridder had a long history of innovation in technology. It was the first newspaper publisher to experiment with videotex when it launched its Viewtron system in 1982. After investing six years of research and $50 million into the service, Knight Ridder shut down Viewtron in 1986 when the service's interactivity features proved more popular than news delivery.
In 1997 it bought four newspapers from The Walt Disney Company formerly owned by Capital Cities Communications after Disney's purchase of Cap Cities mainly for the ABC television network (the Kansas City Star, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Belleville News-Democrat and (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader) for $1.65 billion. It was, at the time, the most expensive newspaper acquisition in the history of the newspaper business.
For most of its existence, the company was based in Miami, with headquarters on the top floor of the Miami Herald building. In 1998, Knight Ridder relocated its headquarters from Miami to San Jose, Calif.; there, that city's Mercury News—the first daily newspaper to regularly publish its full content online—was booming along with the rest of Silicon Valley. The internet division had been established there three years earlier. The company rented several floors in a downtown high-rise as its new corporate base.
In November 2005, the company announced plans for "strategic initiatives," which involved the possible sale of the company. This came after three major institutional shareholders publicly urged management to put the company up for sale. At the time, the company had a higher profit margin than many Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil.
Purchase by McClatchy
On March 13, 2006, The McClatchy Company announced its agreement to purchase Knight Ridder for a purchase price of $6.5 billion in cash, stock and debt. The deal gave McClatchy 32 daily newspapers in 29 markets, with a total circulation of 3.3 million. However, for various reasons, McClatchy decided immediately to resell twelve of these papers.
On April 26, 2006, McClatchy announced it was selling the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Monterey Herald, and St. Paul Pioneer Press to MediaNews Group (with backing from the Hearst Corporation) for $1 billion.
List of newspapers
Daily newspapers owned by Knight Ridder and its predecessors included:
Knight Ridder-owned companies
A list of companies that were at one time or another owned by Knight Ridder:
- Vu/Text - 1982-1996. Merged with PressLink to become MediaStream.
- PressLink - ??-1996. Merged with Vu/Text to become MediaStream.
- MediaStream - 1996-2001. Acquired by NewsBank
- DataStar - Acquired from Radio Schweiz Ltd., merged with Dialog to form Knight Ridder Information
- Dialog (online database) - Merged with DataStar to form Knight Ridder Information
- Knight Ridder Information - ??-1997, Acquired by MAID, later by Thomson
- Knight Ridder Financial Inc - 1985 Buys MoneyCentre and renames it KRFI?? -1996, Acquired by Global Financial trading as Bridge Data
- RealCities Network - 2004-2006 RealCities was a portal/hub website for Knight-Ridder group. It was absorbed with The McClatchy Company into McClatchy Interactive and sold to Chicago-based Centro in 2008.
Knight Ridder-owned television stations
In 1954, Ridder Newspapers launched WDSM-TV in Superior, Wisconsin, serving the Duluth, Minnesota market. Initially a CBS affiliate, it switched to its present NBC affiliation a year and a half after the station's launch. It was spun off after Ridder's merger with Knight Newspapers, Inc.
In 1977, Knight Ridder entered broadcasting with the acquisition of Poole Broadcasting, which consisted of WJRT-TV in Flint, Michigan, WTEN in Albany, New York and its satellite WCDC in Adams, Massachusetts, and WPRI-TV in Providence, Rhode Island. Immediately after the acquisition of these stations was finalized, Knight Ridder cut a corporate affiliation deal with ABC, switching then-CBS affiliates WTEN/WCDC and WPRI (the latter of which eventually rejoined CBS) to ABC (WJRT was already affiliated with ABC when the affiliation deal was made). Knight Ridder would acquire several television stations in medium-sized markets during the 1980s, including three stations owned by The Detroit News which the Gannett Company (which purchased the newspaper in 1986) could not keep due to Federal Communications Commission regulations on media cross-ownership and/or television duopolies then in effect. (Interestingly, none of Knight Ridder's later acquisitions changed their network affiliations under Knight Ridder ownership; for example, then-NBC affiliate WALA-TV in Mobile, Alabama remained an NBC affiliate when it was owned by Knight Ridder and would switch to Fox several years after Knight Ridder sold the station.) In early 1989, Knight Ridder announced its exit from broadcasting, selling all of its stations to separate buyers; the sales were finalized in the summer and early fall of that year.
- (**) - This station was co-owned by Knight Newspapers and Cox Newspapers, long before Knight's merger with Ridder Publications.
- (++) - This station was owned by Ridder Publications until the merger between Ridder and Knight forced its divestiture.
|City of license / Market||Station||Channel TV (RF)||Years Owned||Current Ownership Status|
|Mobile, Alabama - Pensacola, Florida||WALA-TV||10 (9)||1986-89||Fox affiliate owned by LIN Media|
|Tucson, Arizona||KOLD-TV||13 (32)||1986-89||CBS affiliate owned by Raycom Media|
|Miami, Florida||WCKT||7 (7)||1956-62 **||Fox affiliate, WSVN, owned by Sunbeam Television|
|Flint, Michigan||WJRT-TV||12 (12)||1977-89||ABC affiliate owned by SJL Broadcasting|
|Albany, New York||WTEN||10 (26)||1977-89||ABC affiliate owned by Media General|
(satellite of WTEN)
|19 (36)||1977-89||ABC affiliate owned by Media General|
|Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||KTVY||4 (27)||1986-89||NBC affiliate, KFOR-TV, owned by Tribune Broadcasting|
|Providence, Rhode Island||WPRI-TV||12 (13)||1977-89||CBS affiliate owned by LIN Media|
|Nashville, Tennessee||WKRN-TV||2 (27)||1983-89||ABC affiliate owned by Media General|
|Norfolk, Virginia||WTKR||3 (40)||1981-89||CBS affiliate owned by Dreamcatcher Broadcasting, LLC
(operated through a SSA by Tribune Broadcasting)
|Superior, Wisconsin - Duluth, Minnesota||WDSM-TV||6 (19)||1954-74 ++||NBC affiliate, KBJR-TV, owned by Granite Broadcasting|
- "Ridder" is Dutch for "Knight."
- Contrary to popular belief, the company had nothing to do with the television series Knight Rider.
- "Where We Are." Knight Ridder. April 28, 2005. Retrieved on August 28, 2012. "Knight Ridder 50 W. San Fernando St. San Jose, CA 95113" and "Knight Ridder Digital 35 South Market Street San Jose, CA 95113-2302"
- "Viewtron Remembered Roundtable".
- Merritt, Davis (2005). Knightfall: Knight Ridder and How the Erosion of Newspaper Journalism Is Putting Democracy at Risk. New York: Amacom. ISBN 0814408540.
Media related to Knight Ridder at Wikimedia Commons