The Press: Quiet Deal

In full-page newspaper ads last week, another publisher clamorously announced a deal quietly swung four months ago. The buyer: the Hearst Corp., still (with 14 dailies) one of the largest U.S. newspaper empires. The buy: Avon Publications Inc., publishers of paperback books.

The purchase of Avon was one more signpost along the new path that the Hearst empire has followed since the death of William Randolph Hearst in 1951. In constructing his corporate cat's cradle, Hearst paid so little attention to the ledger that in 1940 an economist, wading through Hearst's 94 separate corporations, discovered outstanding debts of $126 million. What Hearst...