Dean Singleton on retiring as MediaNews Group chair, print's decline and the future

Categories: Media

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More photos below.
This week, Dean Singleton announced that he would be stepping down as chairman of MediaNews Group, the nation's second-largest newspaper company, and publisher of the Denver Post.

Singleton is loved and hated with equal fervor within the journalism industry, but he's always been the most accessible of moguls. And in a conversation with Westword, he was typically frank about the reasons for his decision, the inevitable decline of print and the mark he's left on newspapering.

As you'll recall, Singleton, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, let it be known he would be passing on the mantle of MediaNews CEO back in January 2011; that position was finally filled by John Paton the following September. But he's held onto the company's chairmanship and acted as the Post's publisher for more than two years since then. And while Singleton will serve as non-executive chairman of the Post going forward, he refers to his latest move as retirement.

Why now?

"I've been thinking about it for quite some time," Singleton says. "It's a variety of factors, most of them personal. I've battled MS for a long, long time, and it's well known that it gets progressively worse over time in terms of mobility. It takes longer to do things, and you have to plan ahead.

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Dean Singleton in his Denver Post office circa 2001, when we profiled him in the cover story "Press for Success."
"Secondly, I've spent my life building the company and traveling a lot and not spending as much time with my three children as I should have. Now, they're grown, and I'm really learning to have a rewarding, fun relationship with them. I have two grandchildren, too, and personal time is becoming a lot more important to me.

"And third, I've been working full time for and around newspapers since I was fifteen, and there are a lot of things that interest me, and that I want to spend more time doing while I still can. And it just seems hard to do those things when you're tied day-to-day to the newspapers. So our company's annual meeting comes up in December, and if you're going to retire as chairman and leave the board, an appropriate time to do it is by the annual meeting."

In recent years, insiders have suggested that Singleton, once the undisputed king of MediaNews, was being slowly but steadily marginalized. In his view, "I don't think that's correct. Two and a half, almost three years ago, I announced that I was going to step down as CEO, and it took about nine months to come to a decision about who the new CEO would be. After that, in terms of the sixteen-hour days and traveling around the country doing budgets, I stopped doing that. So I haven't been involved in the day-to-day operations on the business side for more than two years. But I've still been in every day, and if anything, I've gotten more involved in the Denver Post, because I was here and didn't travel as much, and I'm very interested in all things Colorado."

Loosening his involvement in MediaNews Group was "by design," he stresses. "You can't have two CEOs, and John's the CEO. But I still talk with John regularly on what we're doing, and review results and financial statements and all of that. I just spent a little more time on the Denver Post side of things during that period of time. But that takes up much of every day, and it's hard to really free yourself while you're still there all the time."

When asked about the troubles the traditional newspaper industry is experiencing, Singleton pulls no punches.

Continue for more of our interview with Dean Singleton following his announcement that he'll be retiring as chairman of MediaNews Group.


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7 comments
NotAFanOfDinkys
NotAFanOfDinkys

Let me know when the Jew-hating, American-hating bastard is dead and buried and burning in Hell where he belongs.

NotAFanOfDinkys
NotAFanOfDinkys

Let me know when the American-hating bastard is dead and buried, and burning in Hell as he deserves. His legacy is the bar-hopping, gold-digging, no-talent slut Janet Singleton.

hbarca
hbarca

Late in the game, Dean Singleton did some OK things with the Denver Post. But for most of his career, he has killed newspapers, turning them into cadavers. The San Jose Mercury News. The Contra Costa Times. Pasadena Star News. The Houston Post. The Los Angeles Daily News. The St. Paul Pioneer-Press. Making Long Beach Press-Telegram employees stand outside the building and reapply for their jobs at drastically reduced wages. He made newspapers unreadable, unnecessary, superfulous. His kids never read a newspaper because they lived with Dad and he never put out a decent newspaper for most of his life. Now he's turned over the anorexic operation to John Paton to finish the job with digital fantasies that even Singleton can't bring himself to say have any rationale business model. 

A pariah to journalism. Goodbye, Dean.

Bill
Bill

The face and motorized scooter of what went wrong with print media the past quarter century. He destroyed newspapers from coast to coast, and gleefully buried the better Denver newspaper five years ago, then happily danced on the grave of 200-plus employees when Cincinnati executives curled up into the fetal position. 

 He bragged five years ago the Denver Post would be better with the Rocky buried. Instead, it's been a quick descent into the weekly shopper it has become, with constant layoffs and death by a thousand cuts. His legacy? That he destroyed newspapers everywhere he went in the country. And how perfect an ending to his reign of terror in Denver that his retirement is announced just days after another round of layoffs. Lean Dean to the end.

May the next story we read about this heartless bastard is that he drove is scooter off a cliff and it's his obit, which the first sentence will be: "He killed newspapers."

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

Dear Dinky,

You started with "digital" in 1994 and let Craig Newmark destroy your classified ad business.
You let Cars.com come along 4 years later and eat more of your lunch.
You had an 11-year head start on Zillow and how real estate advertising do you have now?

Great business acumen there.

,dave
(A Post subscriber for 25+ years before giving up on the pathetic mess.)


McShyster
McShyster

@davebarnes 

... All Hail Craigslist -- Slayer of Greedy Overpriced Classified Print Pigs !!

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