Dean Singleton Wins in Salt Lake City

Categories: Media

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Things always seem to work out for Dean Singleton, whose MediaNews Group owns the Denver Post and well over a hundred daily newspapers across the country. Take the case of the Salt Lake Tribune, which he bought in 2001 and has been fighting to keep ever since. As noted in this August 9 Tribune article, the Salt Lake Publishing Company, a onetime Trib owner that claimed it should have been given a chance to reobtain the paper under an agreement that predated MediaNews' purchase, finally ended its long-running court challenge in exchange for an "undisclosed payment."

Thus ends one of the nastiest scraps in recent newspapering history -- one whose origins were documented in Westword.

"Blood Feud," published in December 2000, sets the scene and introduces some of the primary players, including the folks behind the Deseret News, which is involved in a joint operating agreement with the Tribune. Back then, Deseret was published in the afternoons, but had wanted to switch to mornings for years, only to be blocked by the Trib, which had to sign off on any such move. Enter Singleton, who had no problem with Deseret shifting to a morning schedule -- a stance that led to him being accused of being in a secret cabal with the Trib's rival.

The following year, in a sprawling Westword profile, Singleton laughed off suggestions that he was, in essence, a "Mormon spy." Nevertheless, he's good at keeping secrets. In the aforementioned Tribune piece, Brigham Young University journalism professor Joel Campbell complains about his company's failure to reveal the details of MediaNews' deal with the Salt Lake Publishing Company. In his view, "It seems ironic that a corporation that prides itself in open government, and certain the Tribune has been active in preserving open government laws in Utah, would agree to keep this settlement under wraps and not allow the public to see what's happened."

Maybe so -- but what Dean Singleton wants, he usually gets. -- Michael Roberts

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