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The Knight Ridder building in San Jose, California.
|Fate||Purchased by The McClatchy Company|
|Successor||The McClatchy Company|
|Founded||July 11, 1974|
|Founder||John S. Knight|
|Defunct||June 27, 2006|
(31 years, 351 days)
Knight Ridder // (from Dutch: ridder, knight) was an American media company, specializing in newspaper and Internet publishing. Until it was bought by McClatchy on June 27, 2006, it was the second largest newspaper publisher in the United States, with 32 daily newspaper brands sold. Its headquarters was 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 in the interwar period, Ridder successfully transitioned into English language publishing by acquiring The Journal of Commerce in 1926.
Both companies went public in 1969 and merged on July 11, 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 1983. 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.
Knight-Ridder purchased Dialog Information Services Inc. from Lockheed Corporation in August 1988. In October 1988, the company placed its eight broadcast television stations up for sale to reduce debt and to pay for the purchase of Dialog.
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 history.
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.
In run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Knight Ridder DC Bureau reporters Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel wrote a series of articles critical of purported intelligence suggesting links between Saddam Hussein, the obtainment of weapons of mass destruction, and Al-Qaeda, citing anonymous sources.
Landay and Strobel's stories ran in counter to reports by The New York Times, The Washington Post and other national publications, resulting in some newspapers within Knight-Ridder chain refusing to run the two reporter's stories. After the war and the discrediting of many initial news reports, Strobel and Landay received the Raymond Clapper Memorial award from the Senate Press Gallery on February 5, 2004 for their coverage.
The Huffington Post headlined the two as "the reporting team that got Iraq right". The Columbia Journalism Review described the reporting as "unequaled by the Bigfoots working at higher-visibility outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times".
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 – listed alphabetically by place of publication – included:
- The American News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 1928–2006
- Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio), 1903–2006
- Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Illinois), 1997–2006
- The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington), 2005–2006
- Sun Herald (Biloxi, Mississippi), 1986–2006
- Boca Raton News (Boca Raton, Florida), 1969–1997
- The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), 2005–2006
- The Daily Camera (Boulder, Colorado), 1969–1997
- The Herald (Bradenton) (Bradenton, Florida), 1973–2006
- The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina), 1955–2006
- Chicago Daily News (Chicago, Illinois), 1944–1959
- The State (Columbia, South Carolina), 1986–2006
- Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Georgia), 1973–2006
- Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan), 1940–2005
- Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 1936–2006
- The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana), 1980–2006
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas), 1997–2006
- The Post-Tribune (Gary, Indiana), 1966–1998
- Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks, North Dakota), 1929–2006
- The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri), 1997–2006
- Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Kentucky), 1973–2006
- Long Beach Press-Telegram (Long Beach, California), 1952–1997
- The Telegraph (Macon, Georgia), 1969–2006
- Florida Keys Keynoter (Marathon, Florida), 1956-2006
- The Miami Herald (Miami, Florida), 1937–2006
- El Nuevo Herald (Miami, Florida), 1977–2006
- The Monterey County Herald (Monterey, California), 1997–2006
- The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina), 1986–2006
- The Journal of Commerce (New York City), 1926–1995
- The Olathe News (Olathe, Kansas), 2000–2006
- The Olympian (Olympia, Washington), 2005–2006
- Palo Alto Daily News (Palo Alto, California), 2005–2006
- Pasadena Star-News (Pasadena, California), 1956–1989
- Philadelphia Daily News (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 1969–2006
- The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 1969–2006
- St. Paul Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minnesota), 1927–2006
- San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, California), 1952–2006
- The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, California), 1997–2006
- Starkville Daily News (Starkville, Mississippi), 1986–1987
- Centre Daily Times (State College, Pennsylvania), 1979–2006
- Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, Florida), 1965–2005
- Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, California), 1995–2006
- The Daily Times-Leader (West Point, Mississippi), 1986–1987
- The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kansas), 1973–2006
- Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), 1997–2006
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: 1985–1996. 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
Knight Newspapers entered broadcasting in 1946 via the purchase of minority ownership stakes in WQAM/Miami, WIND/Chicago, and WAKR/Akron; all three stations were in markets served by a Knight newspaper. The minority stake in WAKR's parent company, Summit Radio, also included the establishment of WAKR-TV (channel 49), as well as WAKR-FM (97.5) and six radio stations purchased in Dayton, Ohio, Dallas, Texas, and Denver, Colorado. WAKR-TV was built and signed on by Summit on July 23, 1953 as the Akron market's ABC affiliate, moving to channel 23 on December 1, 1967. Knight Ridder divested its stake in Summit Radio by 1977; a planned merger between the two entities in 1968 failed to be consummated.
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.
Following the divestment of their stake in Summit Radio, Knight Ridder acquired 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. (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.
- (*) – While this station was owned by Summit Radio from 1953 to 1994, Knight Newspapers held a 45 percent minority stake in Summit that predated this station's establishment, this was fully divested by Knight Ridder in 1977.
- (**) – 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
|Years owned||Current ownership status|
|Akron, Ohio||WAKR-TV *||23 (22)||1953–1977||Ion Television owned-and-operated (O&O), WVPX-TV|
|Mobile, Alabama – Pensacola, Florida||WALA-TV||10 (9)||1986–1989||Fox affiliate owned by Meredith Corporation|
|Tucson, Arizona||KOLD-TV||13 (32)||1986–1989||CBS affiliate owned by Gray Television|
|Miami, Florida||WCKT **||7 (7)||1956–1962||Fox affiliate, WSVN, owned by Sunbeam Television|
|Flint, Michigan||WJRT-TV||12 (12)||1978–1989||ABC affiliate owned by Gray Television|
|Albany, New York||WTEN||10 (26)||1978–1989||ABC affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group|
(satellite of WTEN)
|19 (36)||1978–1989||defunct; License cancelled in 2018.|
|Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||KTVY||4 (27)||1986–1989||NBC affiliate, KFOR-TV, owned by Nexstar Media Group|
|Providence, Rhode Island||WPRI-TV||12 (13)||1978–1989||CBS affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group|
|Nashville, Tennessee||WKRN-TV||2 (27)||1983–1989||ABC affiliate owned by Nexstar Media Group|
|Norfolk, Virginia||WTKR||3 (40)||1981–1989||CBS affiliate owned by the E. W. Scripps Company|
|Superior, Wisconsin – Duluth, Minnesota||WDSM-TV ++||6 (19)||1954–1974||NBC affiliate, KBJR-TV, owned by Quincy Media|
- "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". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
- "Knight-Ridder Puts 8 TV Stations on Block to Reduce $929-Million Debt". Los Angeles Times. AP. October 4, 1988. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
- [dead link]
- Astor, David. "Iraq-Coverage Awards for KR, UPI – Editor & Publisher". Editorandpublisher.com. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
- Follmer, Max (2008-03-28). "The Reporting Team That Got Iraq Right". HuffPost. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
- "Knight-Ridder Scores (Again)". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
- "Bill Moyers Journal . Buying the War . Watch the Show". Pbs.org. Retrieved 2019-04-05.
- "mcclatchy.com". Archived from the original on 2006-04-09. Retrieved 2006-04-11.
- Seelye, Katharine Q.; Sorkin, Andrew Ross (2006-03-13). "Newspaper Chain Agrees to a Sale for $4.5 Billion". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-17.
- "medianewsgroup.com" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 26, 2006.
- "Redirect page". Infotoday.com.
- "RealCities Network". Archived from the original on 2012-08-13. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
- "McClatchy Interactive". Archived from the original on 2012-08-03. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
- "Centro". Centro. 2018-01-18. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
- "Knight Buys 42% WIND Stock From R.L. Atlass for $800,000" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 4, 1946. pp. 17–74. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
- "Miami-Herald Buys WQAM; Newark News to Get WBYN" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 12, 1945. p. 14. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
- "John S. Knight Buys 45% Interest in WAKR" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 15, 1946. p. 30. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
- "Profile: The low visibility of a highly involved broadcaster: Roger Berk" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 25, 1974. p. 73. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
- Cullison, Art (May 24, 1953). "WAKR-TV Signs With ABC". Akron Beacon Journal. p. 14-E. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
- "NEW TOWER OF POWER (Advertisement)". Akron Beacon Journal. December 1, 1967. p. B8. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
- "Closed Circuit®: Monomedium" (PDF). Broadcasting. May 2, 1977. p. 7. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
- Dyer, Bob (October 14, 1990). "WAKR has 50 years under its belt: Will past outshine future?". Akron Beacon Journal. p. F1, F5. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
- Merritt, Davis (2005). Knightfall: Knight Ridder and How the Erosion of Newspaper Journalism Is Putting Democracy at Risk. New York: Amacom. ISBN 0814408540.
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