monopoly_money.jpgAccording to a trusted source, and confirmed by the companies involved, the San Francisco Examiner has been sold to a consortium led by Canadian newspaper company Black Press Group.

The Examiner, founded in the mid 1800s, was acquired (it’s been said, as payment for a poker debt) by George Hearst, father of William Randolph Hearst, in 1880.

When the Hearst Corporation purchased the SF Chronicle, the Ex was sold to the Fang family, which converted the paper to the free daily we know it as today.

It was again sold to Philip Anschutz‘s Clarity Media Group in 2004.

According to a statement released by the company (you can read it in full below), the sale is expected to close on November 30, 2011. Both companies are privately held, and say they will not be disclosing details of the deal.

In that same statement, Ryan McKibben, CEO of Clarity Media Group said that “it became clear that owning a single newspaper asset on the West Coast was no longer consistent with our evolving business plan.”

Some within the publication also speculate that the company was happy to rid themselves of a paper based in notoriously liberal San Francisco (they don’t call ’em San Francisco values for nothing!) given Anschutz’s famously right-wing beliefs.

According to the Denver Business Examiner, “Black Press operates mostly small suburban and rural newspapers concentrated in western Canada and Washington state as well as the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal in the U.S.”

The only publication of Clarity’s presently being sold to the consortium led by Black Press is the SF Examiner, says our source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Calls to both companies have not been returned at publication time.

Here’s the full press release:

November 11, 2011

The San Francisco Examiner sold to industry veteran Black Press Group

(DENVER) Clarity Media Group announced today that the San Francisco Examiner has been sold to a consortium led by Black Press Group, a publishing company which produces more than 170 newspapers in North America and maintains 100 internet sites.

Ryan McKibben, CEO of Clarity Media Group, stated:
“When we purchased the Examiner seven years ago, we wanted to provide readers and advertisers with a credible, second daily newspaper, devoted to local reporting. Thanks to the excellent staff at the San Francisco Examiner, we achieved that, and much more.
“In Black Press we found a publisher with a successful track record, and a strong commitment to highly localized reporting.”

Elaborating on the decision to sell the San Francisco Examiner, McKibben added:
“As Clarity Media Group focused increasing resources on the Washington D.C. market – with expansion of The Washington Examiner and The Weekly Standard – as well as the parent company’s recent acquisition of The Oklahoman – it became clear that owning a single newspaper asset on the West Coast was no longer consistent with our evolving business plan. Therefore, when the Black Press organization approached us about a sale, we determined they were the right fit for Examiner and this was the right time to initiate the transaction.”

Commenting on the purchase, David Black said:
“We are delighted to become involved with such a strong newspaper. Readership is second to none in San Francisco and on the peninsula.”

The transaction is expected to close on November 30, 2011. Details of the transaction between the two privately held companies are not being disclosed.

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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