Last `Post' leaves Houston no choice
Known for his commentary on international relations and US politics, Rupert Cornwell also contributes obituaries and occasionally even a column for the sports pages. With The Independent since its launch in 1986, he was the paper's first Moscow correspondent - covering the collapse of the Soviet Union – during which time he won two British Press Awards. Previously a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and Reuters, he has also been a diplomatic correspondent, leader writer and columnist, and has served as Washington bureau editor. In 1983 he published God's Banker, about Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge.
Wednesday 19 April 1995
The end of the 110-year-old Post came with a suddenness rare even by the brutal standards of the industry. A late- morning announcement said the paper and all its assets were being taken over by the Houston Chronicle, its larger competitor, owned by the Hearst Corporation, and 1,500 stunned Post employees were given until 5pm to clear their desks. They will receive two months' severance pay.
The editor, Gerald Garcia, said he was shocked by what had happened: "I thought this was just another passing situation; I just did not foresee this." It was the third closure of a big city daily in Texas, after the demise of the Dallas Times Herald in 1991 and the San Antonio Light two years later.
The circulation of the Post had long lagged behind that of the Chronicle, most lately at 287,000 copies daily compared to 412,000 for its competitor. But, according to its owner, William Singleton, the last nail in his paper's coffin was the recent sharp rise in newsprint costs, from $400 a ton a year ago to an expected $675 (£435) a ton next month. Apart from Hearst, no other potential buyer was ready to pay the reported $120m asking price for the Post and the Justice Department's anti-trust division had little choice but to approve the transaction. Houston, the fourth most populous metro area in the country, is now the largest without competing newspapers, joining cities like Atlanta, Baltimore and St Louis.
Apart from New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, the three largest metro areas, Boston, Washington DC, Seattle and Denver are among those which still have two papers. Others, like San Francisco and Detroit, boast two titles, but these have close financial links.
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