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Title: JOAs
Published: Editor & Publisher
Date: Nov. 1, 1997
About this cartoon: Joint Operating Agreements are exceptions to federal antitrust laws that permit two newspapers to merge their non-news functions (advertising, circulation and printing) in situations where one of those papers was about to die. While the Act is controversial (supposedly "a license to print money" say competitors) it has kept second voices alive around the country for decades. But in the 1990s, papers found that they could come out ahead financially by breaking the JOA and letting the weaker paper die... good for shareholders, but a violation of the purpose of the Act and a huge disservice to the readers in those cities.
Noteworthy: In 1999 and 2000 I worked for both parts of a JOA operation in San Francisco (the Examiner and Chronicle). This JOA was broken in 2000, although the Examiner survives, for now, due to a strange sale-and-subsidy arrangement. I also worked for another JOA paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. JOAs are awkward, but they have been keeping newspapers-- and newspaper jobs-- alive.
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