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Friday, November 27, 2009

Corporate Cult of Secrecy Detailed in Bunky Hearst Divorce Saga

Posted By on Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 3:15 PM

We've long known that Hearst Corp's San Francisco Chronicle could do better unearthing local news. What we didn't know was that the corporation, and the family behind it, are dedicated to a cult of secrecy unique in American newspaper dynasties.

According to the current issue of Fortune, divorce wrangling

between William Randolph Hearst grandson Bunky Hearst and his erstwhile

wife, Barbara, revealed the clan and its company's deep dedication to


To wit:

...on a deeper level, the case provided a test of how ironclad the

Hearst trust is when compared with, say, the dual-class stock system

that the Graham family of the Washington Post or the Sulzbergers of the New York Times use to control their dynasties. In those cases, the company's stock is

publicly traded, but the family rules through a special class of stock

with controlling voting rights.

According to the story, the family and company put up a secrecy Maginot Line when the former Mrs. Hearst demanded to see documents memorializing 15 years worth of Bunky's decisions as a Hearst trustee and director.

The resulting fight, laid out sordidly in Fortune, provides useful perspective on San Francisco's paper of record. 

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Matt Smith


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