Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ex-Ex pub lands new job, scandals reported

P. Scott McKibben, former publisher of the San Francisco Examiner as it went from a paid broadsheet to a free tab daily, has landed a job as publisher of the 100,000-circulation Colorado Springs (Colo.) Gazette, a property of Freedom Newspapers (also owner of the Orange County Register). But give his new paper credit -- it didn't print a puff piece about McKibben's arrival. Instead, it reported the controversies that dogged McKibben in the Bay Area, both at the Examiner and previously at ANG newspapers, and asked him to comment. A lot of papers these days probably would have done the puff piece out of fear of alienating the new boss. Here's what McKibben's new paper said about him:
    During his time as head of the ANG group in California, which is controlled by Denver Post owner William Dean Singleton, McKibben came under fire in a 2003 story in an alternative weekly that said he “embodied the company’s policy of staring down unions at all costs, bleeding the papers white, and kicking money upstairs to finance boss Singleton’s relentless newspaperbuying spree.”

    McKibben also was painted as a socialite who ordered staff to cover events he attended.

    Asked about the story, McKibben said it was written by a former ANG employee and union member who was unhappy with contract negotiations. McKibben said the story didn’t discuss his success in negotiating a union contract that raised pay and expanded retirement benefits. McKibben denied ordering reporters to cover social events.

    McKibben also was embroiled in lawsuits related to the sale of the San Francisco Examiner. As publisher, McKibben was asked by the paper’s family ownership to find a buyer, news stories reported.

    After the Examiner’s sale in 2004, McKibben sued the former owners and alleged they withheld compensation owed to him as part of the deal. The previous owners countersued, alleging McKibben failed to get top dollar for the paper and steered the sale to Denver businessman Phillip Anschutz — who employed McKibben’s brother as a consultant.

    Both lawsuits were settled in June 2005, McKibben said.

What his new paper didn't say was that the Examiner's current owner, Phil Anschutz, was paying McKibben $420,000 a year plus a $180,000 annual bonus, according to court records cited by the Los Angeles Times in a July 23, 2006 story. McKibben also got a country club membership paid by the Examiner owner. And who says free newspapers don't pay?