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Old Media Shudder at Knight Ridder's Demise

Associated Press writer Michael Liedtke reports that it should have been an idyllic setting when a clique of media and technology tycoons convened for an annual retreat amid the summer splendor of Idaho's mountains.

But the facade of tranquility did little to conceal the friction bristling beneath the surface of the five-day summit. The host, investment banker Herb Allen, had compiled a guest list that consists mostly of executives trying to protect their own turf while they invade new markets to reach increasingly fragmented and fickle audiences.

This high-stakes battle pits long-entrenched media like newspapers, broadcasters, movie studios and recording labels against high-tech trailblazers using the Internet to redirect the flow of information, entertainment and, ultimately, money.

Even losing early rounds in the fight can be fatal, as the recent demise of Knight Ridder Inc. demonstrated. The nation's second-largest newspaper publisher was sold to McClatchy Co. after the company's biggest shareholders expressed doubts about Knight Ridder's ability to compete as more advertising shifts to the Web. "I wish we had invented Google," a despondent CEO Tony Ridder said the day before Knight Ridder faded into obsolescence.

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