Friday, March 30, 2007

Singleton's MediaNews accuses Ridder's son

A story involving allegations of corporate theft is playing out in Minneapolis involving a number of newspaper executives with ties to the Bay Area.

Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group, the Bay Area's largest newspaper operator, also operates the St. Paul Pioneer Press. This morning, the Pioneer Press printed a story accusing its former publisher, Par Ridder (pictured), of taking a laptop containing "sensitive and confidential" personnel data when he suddenly resigned March 5 and went to work for the competiting Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Par is the son of former Knight Ridder chairman Tony Ridder of Woodside. The MediaNews executive accusing Ridder of theft is Fred Mott, a longtime Knight Ridder executive who was also briefly publisher of MediaNews Group's ANG Newspapers in Alameda County.

Mott describes the alleged theft as "highly unusual." Mott says he sent a Pioneer Press employee to the Star Tribune the day Ridder quit to retrieve the laptop. Ridder gave back the laptop, but Mott alleges that Ridder has data from the hard drive, including five years worth of W-2 income information for all Pioneer Press employees, sensitive e-mails and other data about the company.

MediaNews is threatening legal action against one of the two senior-level employees Ridder took with him when the jumped to the Star Tribune. According to the Pioneer Press, Jennifer Parratt had a non-compete clause in her contract that prevents her from working for the Star Tribune for one year.

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