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Publishers Editors Managing Editors

October 8, 1990

A summary of developments in the news industry for the week of Oct. 1-8: Wyche Fined for Barring Woman Reporter

NEW YORK (AP) - The National Football League on Oct. 5 handed Cincinnati coach Sam Wyche the largest fine ever for an NFL coach, for excluding a woman reporter from the Bengals’ locker room.

The league refused to disclose the amount of the fine, describing it only as one-seventeenth of Wyche’s annual pay. Reports have placed Wyche’s pay at $500,000, which would put the fine at just under $30,000.

Wyche had no comment, Cincinnati spokesman Al Heim said. There is no appeal process available to the coach.

The fine was announced by Joe Browne, the NFL’s vice president for communications, who said, ″The commissioner said last year that equal media access was a priority and I believe this emphasizes that point.″

Tagliabue had promised a heavy fine after Wyche refused to allow Denise Tom, a reporter for USA Today, to enter the Bengals’ locker room following a game against Seattle.

″I will not allow a woman to walk into a room of 50 naked men,″ Wyche said. Instead, he delivered quarterback Boomer Esiason to Tom for an interview outside the locker room.

At midweek, Wyche offered a solution to the access problem that he called ″Plan B,″ saying all media would be allowed in the dressing room for 20 minutes after games while the players remained in their uniforms. Then the room would be cleared and media not allowed back in until the players had showered and dressed. Tagliabue rejected that idea.

Gene Policinski, managing editor for sports at USA Today, said, ″The quick action by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the warning that any future violations will mean even more severe discipline supports the basic idea that reporters, male and female, have a legitimate professional role in NFL locker rooms.″

A year ago, Tagliabue fined Wyche $3,000 for closing the Bengals’ locker room to all media following a loss to Seattle. And in 1986, then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle fined him $2,000 for knocking a microphone out of a reporter’s hand in the dressing room.

The largest previous fine for an NFL coach was $5,000, levied against several coaches for public criticism of officials and for on-field conduct. Former Watergate Investigator Probing Harassment of Reporter

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) - A former Watergate investigator has been named to look into a sportswriter’s claims that members of the New England Patriots exposed themselves and made suggestive remarks to her in the locker room.

Harvard law professor Philip Heymann was appointed Oct. 1 by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson has alleged that Zeke Mowatt exposed himself and made lewd comments Sept. 17 and that two or three other players she couldn’t identify stood naked near her. At least one of those players made suggestive remarks, she said. Coach ‘Push-Kicks’ Free-Lance Photographer

HOUSTON (AP) - A Houston Oilers assistant coach and a free-lance news photographer differed over whether the newsman was kicked in the ribs or ″push-kicked″ during a game with San Diego on Sept. 30.

Photographer Chris Corr said assistant coach Bob Young first tripped over him while backing away from an out-of-bounds play. Corr, who was shooting a picture of the Oilers’ bench, said Young jumped to his feet and kicked him.

Young said Corr had crossed over into a team area where he did not belong and that his action came in the heat of the game.

″He was where he wasn’t supposed to be and I push-kicked him,″ Young said. ″I apologized twice and he said he understood. I think you guys (media) are making more of it than it should be.″

Corr said he was well outside of the off-limits area. Oilers coach Jack Pardee called it an unfortunate incident.

″The photographer was in our area and Bob backed over him,″ Pardee said. ″Bob’s back has been bothering him since he hurt it in training camp. He pushed the guy with his foot out of frustration.″ Speakers Announced for APME Convention

NEW YORK (AP) - Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick, Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and Andy Rooney of CBS are among the speakers scheduled for the Associated Press Managing Editors association convention in Dallas from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.

Jim Wright, former speaker of the House of Representatives, will discuss his long relationship with the media.

Workshops and panels include segments on:

-Small newspapers competing directly with big-city rivals.

-Improving newspaper readership.

-Ways to be a better editor, even in tough economic times.

-Staying healthy in a stress-filled job. Dr. Ken Cooper, the ″inventor″ of aerobics, will advise editors and spouses.

-Recent press changes in the Soviet Union as seen by two Soviet editors.

-Treatment of minority politicians by the press.

-Ethical decisions faced by the editors.

-Giving job performance evaluations to staff members.

-Coping with repetitive stress injuries.

-How involved should an editor be in a community?

-The AP electronic darkroom and an open forum between AP representatives and APME members.

-AP SelectStocks, again with an open forum.

In addition, special programs for spouses will feature syndicated personal finance columnist Scott Burns explaining ″How to Finance the Rest of Your Life.″ A Neiman-Marcus model and fashion coordinator will have practical advice on ″Secrets of Great Dressing.″

There are two optional spouse tours of Dallas. One visits landmarks, including Southfork Ranch, site of the television prime-time soap opera ″Dallas.″ The other visits several restaurants where nationally famous chefs will prepare specialties and offer taste samples.

The social program for the convention includes an optional Texas lunch at the Mesquite Rodeo. This is the professional rodeo seen during much of the year on national cable television.

The Dallas-Fort Worth host committee reception will be in the Meyerson Symphony Center, which opened last year. The hall was designed by I.M. Pei.

Also, the Friday Night Finale will feature ″A Taste of Texas,″ with such foods as gulf shrimp, catfish fingers, barbeque brisket, burritos, tacos, venison, mesquite-smoked beef and grilled chicken.

The convention will be at the Fairmont Hotel. Registration forms for the convention and for the Fairmont have appeared in recent issues of APME News. Forms may also be obtained via fax by calling The Dallas Morning News at 214-977-8363. Gannett Foundation Rejects $540 Million Stock Offer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Gannett Foundation has rejected a $540 million bid from Gannett Co. Inc. to buy its 10 percent block of the media giant’s stock.

Martin F. Birmingham, chairman of the foundation’s finance and investment committee, said Oct. 1 that the foundation, Gannett’s largest shareholder, had authorized the investment firm of Salomon Brothers to seek other offers.

″The current depressed market price of Gannett stock does not represent the true value of the company,″ Birmingham said. ″It would be irresponsible for the trustees to accept this unsatisfactory ‘at the market’ bid.″

The bid, dated Sept. 14, was $33.87 1/2 per share for a total value of about $540 million.

The foundation had told the company that no substantive talks with interested third parties would take place as long as serious negotiations were going on with the company.

Douglas H. McCorkindale, Gannett Co. Inc.’s chief financial officer, agreed the company’s stock was undervalued because of the recent downturn in advertising revenue.

Despite the foundation’s rejection, Gannett Co. was still ″a ready, willing and able buyer of the stock,″ he said.

McCorkindale said Gannett was not worried that having such a large block of stock up for grabs could make the company a potential takeover target because ″financing a takeover in today’s market is much, much more difficult than it was two, three or four years ago.″

He cited the decline of the junk bond market, which financed a number of takeovers in the 1980s.

He also noted that Gannett has a shareholder rights offering plan that would kick in after somebody acquires 15 percent of the stock. The plan would make it prohibitively expensive for a suitor to acquire more shares, McCorkindale said.

John Morton, a newspaper analyst with Lynch, Jones & Ryan in Washington, agreed that Gannett was the most likely buyer to pay a premium over market price.

″If they (the foundation) couldn’t get the price they wanted from Gannett, I think it’s unlikely they’re going to get it from anybody else,″ said Morton.

″It’s not as though Gannett is a company that’s considered a prime candidate for a takeover. Takeover-prone companies normally are those that have not satisfied their shareholders with financial performance over the years. You cannot say that about Gannett,″ he said.

Birmingham said the market value of the stock was about $800 million at the third-quarter high a year earlier.

″Since last year, many factors have contributed to the decline of Gannett stock, including the company’s first down quarter since it went public in 1967 and its gloomy predictions about 1990 earnings overall,″ he said.

The foundation was established in 1935 as an independent entity with controlling ownership of the company. New Haven Register Cuts Staff

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - The New Haven Register, in a cost-cutting move it blamed on sagging advertising revenues, laid off 19 employees Oct. 3 and said it was taking other steps to improve its finances.

Thomas P. Geyer, the Register’s chief executive officer, said top executives of the company also have cut their salaries by 10 percent to 20 percent to trim expenses. The newspaper also has raised advertising and home- delivery rates.

The layoffs include 11 editorial employees, four in the business office and four in advertising. Nine vacant jobs will remain unfilled. The newspaper has 780 full-and part-time employees.

″When we made our budget plans last spring, we had counted on the decline in the local economy leveling off by fall,″ Geyer said. ″But advertising linage continues to go down, especially in real estate advertising, help wanted and retail and merchandise advertising.″

Ad linage is down about 20 percent from last year. The company also saw a decline in 1989, Geyer said.

The newspaper laid off 12 workers in the circulation department in December, one in the composing room this summer, and offered an early retirement program in June, Geyer said.

The Register was acquired last July by the New York investment firm E.M. Warburg, Pincus & Co., which previously shared ownership with Ralph Ingersoll II.

The newspaper has changed ownership three times since the Jackson family, its longtime owners, sold it in 1986 to Goodson Newspapers. Goodson sold it to Ingersoll for $250 million. Rocky Mountain News Offers Computer Service

DENVER (AP) - The Rocky Mountain News is offering subscribers a free computer edition of the newspaper during an eight-week test starting Oct. 15.

The service can be read using the subscriber’s own modem and a free software disk, available by filling out and mailing in a coupon printed in the newspaper.

″A La Carte Edition″ will be on line by 11 a.m. each weekday and will be updated until 5 p.m., to give subscribers more current stock market statistics, and other information.

″In addition to the newspaper you hold in your hands in the morning, you’re going to be able to get additional information, and we can give people things that the physical limitations of the newspaper prohibit us from giving them,″ said News Editor Jay Ambrose.

Dennis Dressman, managing editor-administration, said the electronic newspaper will offer ″dazzling graphics″ and some news that doesn’t fit in the regular edition.

For example, he said, most regular newspapers have space to publish team- by-team statistics only once a week, but ″A La Carte Edition″ can offer them daily.

The service will be delivered to personal computers via TeleMax, an on-line communications program developed by Shaman Exchange Inc. of Lakewood. Consultant Says Bid To Buy Gray Communications Too Low

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) - The future ownership of The Albany Herald and its parent company remained uncertain Oct. 2 after a consultant’s report said an offer from Editor James H. ″Jimmy″ Gray was too low.

The estate of Gray’s deceased father, James H. Gray Sr., owns 51.7 percent of the parent company. The younger Gray had an agreement to buy out his brother and sister, but the consultant’s report has, at the least, postponed that deal.

It also reopened the possibility that someone outside the family could buy the company, though Jimmy Gray has said he believes the will requires the stock be sold to one of the three heirs at a fair price.

Besides the newspaper, Gray Communications Inc. owns three television stations, a real estate firm, a distribution firm and an aircraft-servicing facility.

The senior Gray, Albany’s mayor, died in September 1986. The will divides his shares among Jimmy Gray, Geoffrey Gray and Constance G. Greene, who are also co-publishers of the newspaper.

Mrs. Greene and Geoffrey Gray first wanted to have the stock sold and the proceeds distributed among the heirs. Later they agreed to sell to their brother for $162.50 per share, if a committee of the board determined that the offer was fair. The committee found that the offer was not adequate.

The deadline for taking action on the proposal was Oct. 1. Board member Neal Ray, who also serves as the company’s attorney, said the failure to conclude an agreement by the deadline meant that the estate could seek an outside buyer for the stock. Roseanne Barr, Husband File $35 Million Racketeering Suit Against Tabloids

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Actress Roseanne Barr and her husband have filed a $35 million federal racketeering lawsuit against the National Enquirer and Star tabloids over their publication of her love letters.

The suit was filed Oct. 2 under federal racketeering statutes charging copyright infringement, conspiracy, invasion of property and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The suit seeks $10 million compensatory damages and $25 million punitive damages from the National Enquirer, Star and the publications’ owner, News America Publishing Inc.

Miss Barr and husband Tom Arnold are seeking relief under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO.

The racketeering activity, according to the suit, involves the Enquirer’s alleged ″participation in a scheme to obtain the private papers and effects of celebrities by inducing and paying persons and entities to steal such information and transport it in interstate commerce.″

The couple also seeks the return of Miss Barr’s ″private, written letters and outpourings of love and affection to Arnold embodied in four writings ... purloined and-or published by defendants.″

National Enquirer Editor Iain Calder said from his Lantana, Fla., office that he hadn’t seen the suit and so couldn’t respond to specific allegations.

″Any legal action against this publication under RICO is so ridiculous that it is clear this is just another pathetic publicity stunt by Roseanne,″ Calder said.

″She is trashing the National Enquirer, but we are in good company. A few weeks ago she was trashing the national anthem.″

Star Editor Dick Kaplan said from Tarrytown, N.Y., that he would have no comment because he hadn’t seen the suit.

The suit said the tabloids operate ″a vast network of underground operatives and includes, but is not limited to, agents, employees, friends, relatives and associates of celebrities as well as persons and entities who provide goods and services to celebrities, including plaintiffs.″ Newspaper That Prints Only Arrests Goofs, Costs Man Job

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The Informer, a newspaper that prints only arrest reports, ran into trouble with its first issue when a man falsely linked to a cocaine bust was fired from his job.

Publisher Ray Aden said he still believes the paper will be an important crime-fighting tool, ″but unfortunately, some people might be hurt.″

″He was relying on his people to be accurate and one of them messed up,″ said Shawn Exposito, 23, fired from his $500-a-week job as a carpet installer just a month after the birth of his third child. ″It couldn’t have come at a worse time.″

Aden promised a retraction and said he would do everything he could to help out Exposito, but that did not include an offer to make up for his lost income.

Exposito’s boss at M&M Floor Co., Bert Butler, has tried to help by giving him a lesser job at half the pay until his previous position reopens. Butler already had hired someone else to replace his employee of eight years.

The Informer correctly printed that Exposito was arrested last month for driving with a suspended driver’s license. It also printed that he was arrested on a cocaine charge, which jail records show is inaccurate.

Butler saw the drug arrest item Sept. 28 and fired Exposito the next day.

Aden said he is still trying to determine how the mistake was made and is trying to find another job for Exposito. Newspaper Plans To Appeal Libel Verdict

WELLSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - A lawyer who disputed a Charleston Gazette editorial about his handling of a workers’ compensation case won a $375,000 libel judgment against the newspaper Oct. 4.

The Gazette said it would appeal.

Raymond A. Hinerman claimed the May 20, 1983, editorial damaged his reputation, associated him with dishonest attorneys, and held him up to ridicule among his peers.

His lawsuit said portions of the editorial were false and were ″published with the intent to injure the plaintiff.″

The Brooke County Circuit Court jury awarded Hinerman $300,000 in punitive damages and $75,000 in compensatory damages.

The newspaper said the editorial was based on reliable wire service and newspaper reports of a state Supreme Court appeal. The case concerned a default judgment of $12,000 that Hinerman won against a coal miner who had refused to pay him for legal services.

The newspaper’s lawyer, Rudolph L. DiTrapano, argued that the editorial did not contain errors cited by Hinerman, and said he was confident the decision would be overturned on appeal. Court Permits Libel Suit in Comparative Ads Case

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court refused to kill a libel lawsuit stemming from advertisements comparing Blue Cross and Blue Shield services to those of a health industry competitor.

The court on Oct. 1 left intact a ruling that could send U.S. Healthcare’s libel allegations against Blue Cross and Blue Shield to a federal jury in Philadelphia.

At issue was whether some libel cases involving commercial speech could be held to less stringent standards than others.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in reviving Healthcare’s suit last March, relaxed the rules for commercial-speech libel cases.

Since 1964, public figures - including most businesses - suing for libel must prove that the sued-over statements are false and were made with ″actual malice″ - knowledge or reckless disregard of falsity.

Private citizens suing for libel face a far less demanding burden: Having to prove that the statements are false and were made negligently.

In ruling on Healthcare’s lawsuit, the 3rd Circuit court said the more stringent ″actual malice″ standard need not be used when the allegedly libelous statements were advertisements.

The appeals court overturned a ruling by U.S. District Judge Marvin Katz, who had dismissed the suit. Court To Consider Reinstating Libel Suit Against New Yorker Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court agreed Oct. 1 to consider reinstating a libel lawsuit against Janet Malcolm, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, by a psychologist who says she made up quotes attributed to him.

The justices said they will review a federal appeals court ruling that threw out Jeffrey Masson’s suit last year.

The appeals court ruling was criticized by some who said it recognized ″the right to fake quotes.″

Specifically, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that public figures who sue for libel over allegedly altered quotes must show that the quotes are not even ″rational interpretations″ of what was said.

Private citizens who sue for libel must prove only that the sued-over statements are false and were made negligently. But public figures who sue for libel must prove the statements are false and were made with ″actual malice″ - knowledge or reckless disregard of falsity.

In dismissing Masson’s suit, the 9th Circuit court said, ″Malice will not be inferred from evidence showing that the quoted language does not contain the exact words used ... provided that the fabricated quotations are either rational interpretations of ambiguous remarks made by the public figure ... or do not alter the substantive content of unambiguous remarks actually made by the public figure.″

The appeals court did not rule on whether Ms. Malcolm actually fabricated quotes attributed to Masson. Dartmouth Students Rally Against Review

HANOVER, N.H. (AP) - An anti-Semitic quote in an independent Dartmouth College paper known for its strong criticisms of minorities has infuriated people on and off campus.

Trustees and staffers of The Dartmouth Review insist a saboteur placed the Adolf Hitler quote in the publication, and they have apologized. They further claimed that university President James Freedman and others have created ″a lynch-mob″ mentality on campus.

About 2,000 people attended a rally Oct. 4 to denounce the quote and the paper. History professor Bruce Nelson told the crowd the Review ″lacks a shred of intellectual integrity.″

Staffers and trustees at the Review say they’ve suffered unjustly for an act by someone determined to discredit the paper.

The Review, published since 1980, has been vilified through the years for its views on women, homosexuals, blacks and Indians.

The latest controversy concerns the edition distributed Sept. 29, on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. The quotation, from Hitler’s ″Mein Kampf,″ was inserted unattributed into the statement of principles on the Review’s masthead:

″Therefore, I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator: By warding off the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord’s work.″ School Newspaper Blasted for Marx-Mandela Comparison

INSTITUTE, W.Va. (AP) - Students at West Virginia State College have circulated petitions protesting a school newspaper editorial comparing South African black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela to Karl Marx and Judas Iscariot.

″Basically, we think it’s an attack on African-American leaders. It’s an affront not only to African-Americans as a whole, but we also feel the paper is racist,″ said sophomore Randy Morrison, who was among those angered by the Aug. 29 editorial in The Yellow Jacket.

The editorial by Lawrence J. Smith was titled ″Martin, Malcolm, Mandela and Marx.″ It denounced Mandela as a Marxist who ″has called for the nationalization of industry in South Africa.″

″Jay has the right to express what he says. He’s not writing that as an opinion of the whole staff,″ said Editor in Chief Erran Russell. Scripps Howard Foundation Announces $1 Million Grant

CINCINNATI (AP) - The Scripps Howard Foundation will give $1 million to the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University to bring noted journalists to the school as teachers, lecturers or consultants.

″The Scripps Howard Visiting Professional Chair will give the school an infusion of fresh experience, providing students and faculty another valuable link to the real world of working journalists,″ Albert Schottelkotte, foundation president, said Oct. 6.

The foundation, established in 1962, gave its first grant of $1.5 million to the school in 1983. SportBoston Magazine Folding

BOSTON (AP) - SportBoston magazine’s financial backers have pulled out and the year-old company will have to close, its publisher said Oct. 3.

Publisher Frances F. Freedman said a sister publication in Philadelphia, PhillySport, also will be closed, together eliminating 20 full-time positions.

Circulation of SportBoston was about 50,000, and PhillySport was 53,000, Freedman said.

The Boston Globe reported that SportBoston’s fall issue carried about 32 pages of advertising and generated an estimated $100,000 in revenue, the most yet.

But Freedman said backers were impatient for a return on their investment.

SportBoston first appeared in October 1989. It was edited by E.J. Kahn 3rd, previously a senior editor at Boston Magazine. Tass To Open Bureau in Israel

MOSCOW (AP) - The Soviet news agency Tass will open a news bureau in Israel, an official said Oct. 5, as relations between the two countries continued to improve.

The office will be in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, said Tatyana Kitayeva of the news agency’s international department. The bureau chief will be Alexander A. Zhurdo.

At a United Nations meeting on Oct. 7, the Soviet Union and Israel announced plans to open consulates in each other’s countries, a major step in restoring relations that were cut after the 1967 Middle East War.

Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze said Israel would open a consulate general, the highest-level consulate, in Moscow, and the Soviets would open a consulate general in Tel Aviv.

It also has been announced that direct airline flights between the Soviet Union and Israel would begin within a month. Such flights could accelerate the exodus of Soviet Jews to Israel, which already is straining to accommodate more than 100,000 Soviet emigres who arrived since last year. Kidnapped Journalists Send Taped Message

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - Two of seven journalists held hostage by the Medellin cocaine cartel sent their families a tape-recorded message praying for a quick resolution to the crisis, local news media reported Oct. 7.

It was the first word from any of the victims since they disappeared in August and September.

″We hope that this will end well and that we will be able to be with you soon,″ Diana Turbay de Uribe said in a message sent to her father, former President Julio Cesar Turbay.

The text, read over a national radio network, included statements by a second kidnapped journalist, Azucena Lievano.

The two women said they were in good health. They did not mention the conditions of five other missing journalists. Nor did they give any information on who was holding them.

Lievano, a national TV reporter, and Turbay, editor of a Colombian news magazine, were kidnapped with four other journalists on Aug. 30.

Francisco Santos, managing editor of Bogota’s El Tiempo newspaper, was abducted on Sept. 19.

The drug traffickers have made no ransom demands, but a recent cartel statement called for negotiations with the government toward achieving full amnesty for its members. The government has rejected any negotiations. Editor Says He Was Set Up

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The former editor in chief of the Johnstown Tribune- Democrat said he will present evidence at his hearing this week to discredit charges he impersonated a deputy state attorney general.

″The politics that might have been involved in this is so bizarre that it is beyond my imagination,″ Theodore N. Beitchman said. ″I just know that on Tuesday morning (Oct. 2) I got a bunch of anonymous calls and people were applauding in the background.″

Beitchman, 43, a former editor at Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone magazines, resigned Oct. 1 after 18 months with the paper. Earlier that day, he was arraigned on charges of impersonating a public servant and harassment by communication.

He is accused of threatening a man for trying to collect $921 in damages against Beitchman’s brother after a May 1989 car accident. The charges also claim he used the name and title of a deputy attorney general in one of four telephone calls allegedly made to the man.

Beitchman said he will prove his innocence at a hearing on the charges but does not plan to return to the paper.

″I don’t think it would be possible for me to come back here″ if vindicated, he said. ″I think it is a sign from above that it is time to move on.″ Hatfield Aide Suspends Column

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The top aide to U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield suspended his weekly newspaper column after Hatfield’s challenger questioned columns that mentioned contributors to the senator’s re-election campaign.

Gerry Frank decided Oct. 3 to suspend his weekly column in The Oregonian. Representatives of Democratic Senate candidate Harry Lonsdale had criticized him for mentioning Hatfield campaign contributors four times in the past 16 months.

Frank, chief of staff for Hatfield, said there was no connection between the columns and the contributions.

He said the criticism was unwarranted. Arnold Buys Fairbury Journal-News

FAIRBURY, Neb. (AP) - Fred A. Arnold Jr., former editor of the weekly Bellville (Kan.) Telescope, announced the purchase of the twice-a-week Fairbury Journal-News on Oct. 2.

Arnold, 28, said former publisher William C. Nuckolls will stay on until Nov. 1 to advise him. The purchase, terms of which were not disclosed, also included a printing and office supply business.

The Nuckolls family had operated the newspaper since it was founded in 1897. The newspaper has a paid circulation of about 4,500. LA Times’ Purchase of La Opinion Stock Finalized

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Times Mirror Co. has bought half of the company that publishes La Opinion, one of the country’s largest Spanish-language daily newspapers.

Lozano Enterprises announced the partnership with Times Mirror on Sept. 28. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

″This partnership will enable us to expand and improve our service to the Los Angeles Hispanic community,″ said La Opinion Publisher Jose I. Lozano.

The Spanish daily has been controlled by the Lozano family since it was founded in 1926. It has a daily circulation of about 100,000.

Lozano also owns La Opinion and El Eco del Valle, a weekly tabloid in the San Fernando Valley.

Times Mirror publishes the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, New York Newsday, the Baltimore Sun and the Hartford Courant. It also has interests in television stations and book and magazine publishing. Murdoch Merges Australian Papers

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Rupert Murdoch said Oct. 3 he will merge four of his Australian newspapers into two around-the-clock publications.

The morning Melbourne Sun and afternoon Herald will become The Herald-Sun. In Sydney, the afternoon Mirror and the morning Daily Telegraph will operate as the Daily Telegraph Mirror. All but the Herald are tabloids.

″These far-reaching changes are made as part of a commercial decision to consolidate News Ltd.’s competitive positions in both cities,″ Murdoch said at a news conference.

The moves follow a plunge in the value of News Corp.’s stock. It was trading on the day of the announcement at the equivalent of $5.56 a share, compared with $9.42 earlier this month.

The fall has wiped out more than $1.66 billion of the company’s market capitalization and led the Australian Stock Exchange to launch an inquiry. News Corp. told the exchange Oct. 2 it did not know the reason for the decline.

Murdoch said the changes would not result in cutbacks to the editorial staff, though production areas will be trimmed. Ladies’ Home Journal Selling in Moscow

NEW YORK (AP) - A Russian-language edition of Ladies’ Home Journal hit the newsstands in Moscow with a cover story on America’s 50 Most Powerful Women.

″We know both American and Soviet women are achieving greater power than ever before,″ editor-in-chief Myrna Blyth said. ″Women share so much, can understand and empathize with each other so easily.″

The Soviet information agency Novosti began selling Ladies’ Home Journal in Moscow on Oct. 3, the magazine said.

Among the features in the November issue’s 32-page Russian-language section are an interview with first lady Barbara Bush and recipes for those staples of American life: pizza and apple pie.

And America’s most powerful women?

The list includes USA Today Publisher Cathleen Black, singer-actress Cher, U.S. Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole, advice columnists Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, photographer Annie Leibovitz, NBC newswoman Jane Pauley, tennis star Martina Navratilova and author Danielle Steel. USA Today Plans Publication for Romanian Youth

WASHINGTON (AP) - USA Today and Centrade, a Houston-based trading and consulting firm, will distribute a bimonthly youth publication in Romania with articles about U.S. politics and culture.

Centrade is a joint-venture partner with the Tineretul Liber, a Romanian daily whose name means ″free youth.″ The new product will be a supplement to that newspaper.

The articles will be provided by USA Today and USA Weekend, the partners said Oct. 4. The articles will be translated into Romanian by Tineretul Liber.

USA Today will also supply photographs. The first edition is expected to be on Romanian newsstands in November. The first printing of the supplement will be 300,000 copies. BROADCAST NEWS TV Reporter Claims Isiah Thomas Choked Him

DETROIT (AP) - A television reporter filed an assault and battery complaint Oct. 2 against the Detroit Pistons’ Isiah Thomas, claiming the NBA All-Star choked him and threw him against a car. The charge was dropped later after Thomas apologized.

Virg Jacques of Detroit station WJBK-TV said the alleged assault occurred Oct. 2 outside a gymnasium at Oakland University, where the Pistons had just finished an informal practice.

Jacques said he followed Thomas out of the gym and was walking to his own car when Thomas confronted him. The reporter said Thomas also threatened to run him over.

Jacques filed a complaint with the university’s Department of Public Safety, whose officers have arrest powers as county sheriff’s deputies.

Pistons spokesman Matt Dobek said Thomas and center James Edwards, who witnessed the confrontation, told him the reporter tried to prevent Thomas from getting into his car.

Jim Llewelyn, spokesman for the university’s public safety department, said the matter was dropped Oct. 5.

″We knew within a half-hour after this happened, with two high-visibility people like this, that they would try to resolve it quickly.″ Court To Resolve Arkansas Dispute Over Cable TV Taxation

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court agreed to resolve a dispute from Arkansas over the power of states to tax cable television companies and subscribers.

The court said Oct. 1 it will review a ruling that Arkansas may tax cable TV as long as it also imposes the levy on similar communication services, such as the unscrambling of satellite signals.

With millions of dollars in tax revenue at stake, the ruling was challenged in separate appeals by both the state and cable operators and subscribers.

Arkansas in 1987 imposed its sales tax on cable TV service. The law did not apply to those who own satellite dishes and subscribe to services that unscramble satellite signals.

Also exempted from the tax were all newspaper sales and magazine subscription sales.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in February that the tax unlawfully discriminated against cable TV service because satellite service was excluded. But the state court said it is permissible for the state to exclude the newspaper and magazine sales. CBS News Debuts Answer to ‘Nightline’

NEW YORK (AP) - CBS debuted its late-night news show Oct. 1, a program the network hopes will answer ABC’s ″Nightline.″

The 30-minute premiere of ″America Tonight″ included a 40th anniversary story on ″Peanuts″ cartoonist Charles Schulz and a segment called ″The Endgame″ in which visiting experts and analysts discuss the day’s hot topics.

″We hope to have some insights, to have some arguments and have some fun,″ said folksy Charles Kuralt, the show’s anchorman in New York. Lesley Stahl is the program’s anchor in Washington. Peter Lund to New Post at CBS

NEW YORK (AP) - Peter A. Lund, who left CBS three years ago to become president of Multimedia Entertainment, was named to the new post of executive vice president of the CBS Broadcast Group on Oct. 2.

Lund also will succeed Thomas F. Leahy as president of CBS’ marketing division. Leahy will become a senior vice president of the Broadcast Group until his retirement in 18 months at age 55, CBS said. WCCO-TV Workers Accept Contract Proposal

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The union representing technicians and engineers at WCCO-TV accepted a contract that freezes wages the first year and provides for raises of 2 percent and 3 percent the following two years.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers unit voted to accept the contract from Midwest Communications Inc. on Oct. 2.

Union spokeswoman Deborah Naffziger said management had earlier proposed that salaries be rolled back 8 percent next year, followed by a two-year freeze.

″The membership is very dissatisfied, but the disadvantages of taking a strike outweigh the advantages,″ Naffziger said. Station Fires Employee for Phoning False Information to Competitor

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - An assignment editor at WJAR-TV has been fired for impersonating a senator and calling a competing television station with false information that later was aired.

WJAR News Director Larry Price announced on the station’s 6 p.m. newscast Oct. 3 that the employee, whom he would not identify, had called WPRI-TV and claimed to be Sen. Claiborne Pell, D-R.I.

Price said the editor told a WPRI producer that a disputed story WPRI aired the night before was accurate. WPRI had reported that the USS Kauffman, based in Newport, would be dispatched to the Caribbean Sea for routine exercises and then likely would be sent to relieve ships in the Persian Gulf region.

Price said the editor at his station called WPRI prior to its 6:30 a.m. newscast with the bogus story but called back shortly before air time to say it was a hoax.

But WPRI, believing the original call was from Pell, said the senator had confirmed its story. On its 6 p.m. show, WPRI said its report earlier in the day had been a hoax, but did not elaborate. Maxwell To Shed TV Interests To Concentrate on Papers, Printing

LONDON (AP) - Robert Maxwell’s Mirror Group Newspapers announced plans Oct. 2 to sell its television business to concentrate on newspapers and expand its U.S. operations.

Maxwell said the decision follows investment in new technology that has allowed three of the group’s British newspapers to change to color. They include the Daily Mirror, the group’s national-circulation tabloid flagship, which has a daily sale of 3.9 million copies.

The statement said: ″We have decided in the future the group should concentrate purely on newspapers and printing. We intend to expand our newspaper activities both at home and abroad, particularly in the USA where there are some excellent opportunities for expansion.″

It gave no other details about the planned expansion in the United States.