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Media baron's troubles worry London Catholic newspaper

The troubles of beleaguered newspaper baron Conrad Black, owner of the London Daily Telegraph and former owner of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, are worrying staff at London's Catholic Herald.

Black owns a 45% stake in the Cathoilc Herald, and feels a great affinity for the paper. He bought his first shareholding in 1991, shortly after he converted to Catholicism. He is said to relish the influence it exerts within church circles in England. But it seems possible that he will be forced to divest himself of it, despite the relatively small value of his investment.

The Independent reports that staff at the paper are said to be "very, very nervous". The Catholic journalistic community values the paper's independence from the Church hierarchy. It fears a loss of journalistic integrity if the Herald is bought by the Church - as is feared - and it becomes an official organ.

Cristina Odone, the editor who invited Black to back the paper in 1991, said: "The newspaper was struggling, as it had been starved of money for far too long. Conrad Black had recently converted to Catholicism and he was dying to do a good deed for this new church of his. He seemed like the perfect investor, but now... Let's just say the Herald trembles again."

Praying for survival (London Independent 2/12/03)

Catholic Herald
Trying days in the life of Conrad Black (National Post)

4 Dec 2003