An alternative weekly newspaper and an advocacy group want a federal judge to unseal documents in a lawsuit that claims recent Bay Area newspaper deals are creating a media monopoly.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian and Media Alliance, represented by the Oakland-based nonprofit First Amendment Project, filed a motion Thursday claiming documents in Clint Reilly's case against Denver-based MediaNews Group and New York City-based Hearst Corp. must be made public.

"Our intent here is to ensure that the nation's biggest newspaper chains, as they move to destroy daily competition and impose a regional monopoly on the Bay Area, cannot do so in the dark of night with sealed records that set a terrible precedent for the free press, the First Amendment, and open government," Bay Guardian editor and publisher Bruce Brugmann said in a news release.

Alan Marx, MediaNews' attorney, declined comment; a Hearst spokesman couldn't be reached.

"Oh, good, it's about time," said Joseph Alioto, Reilly's lawyer, adding it's crucial for the public to know all details of antitrust cases. "It's the archetypal example of hypocrisy when major newspapers take the position that the right of the people to know applies to everyone except themselves."

Sacramento-based McClatchy Co. this year sold the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times to MediaNews — which also owns this newspaper — for $736.8 million, and sold the Monterey County Herald and the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press to Hearst, which owns the San Francisco Chronicle, for $263.2 million.


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In a separate, simultaneous pact, Hearst agreed to give the St. Paul and Monterey papers to MediaNews in return for an equity investment in MediaNews' non-Bay Area assets.

Reilly — a San Francisco businessman, political consultant and former mayoral candidate — sued July 14 to halt the deal, claiming it would create a Bay Area newspaper monopoly.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston on Tuesday granted Reilly's request for a preliminary injunction blocking MediaNews and Hearst from striking any deals on cooperative national advertising, Internet advertising or distribution networks at least until the case is tried in April.

Contact Josh Richman at jrichman@angnewspapers.com or (510) 208-6428.