Supermarket magnate turns media mogul

May 22, 2007, 2:42 AM UTC
Fortune

You’d think what with all the attention on The New York Post‘s Page Six scandal (read David Carr’s highly entertaining summary here) that more people would be talking about how one of its central characters finally has become a publisher. Ron Burkle is a billionaire who got his start in the grocery business and became the subject of some nettlesome articles in the Post. The Post suspended one of its writers for allegedly trying to blackmail Burkle, whose personal life, waddya know, hasn’t shown up much in the gossip pages lately. That brouhaha led to the current release of embarrassing information about the Post itself.

Burkle, a civic-minded guy who is pals with Bill Clinton, has for some time now wanted to become a newspaper publisher. He has made unsuccessful runs at Knight-Ridder, when it exisited, and his hometown paper, the Los Angeles Times. Last week Burkle finally got ink on his hands. A company he controls, Source Interlink (SORC) agreed to pay $1.2 billion for the specialty magazine unit of Primedia (PRM). Burkle’s new pubs include Motor Trend, Hot Rod and Surfer. (The L.A. Times, by the way, has the most authoritative account of Burkle’s buy here.)

Source Interlink’s stock is off considerably since the purchase was announced, signaling that investors think Burkle is overpaying. Whatever he’s up to, it’s good to see billionaires supporting the print media business. We need all the help we can get.