"Mass murderer of newspapers" lives here in the summer

This report is in the current edition of the Columbia Journalism Review: 

The Evolution of Dean Singleton
Once, Angry Reporters Threw Beer Cans at Him. Now He's Reaching for Journalistic Respectability.


Last June, a leading American newspaper publisher journeyed to Moscow, where in a gilded conference room deep in the Kremlin, he addressed an audience that included presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin. The occasion was a White House- and Kremlin-sponsored summit of media executives, who will jointly endeavor to remake the Russian media along free-market lines. "A free, independent media is the backbone of democracy," the publisher proclaimed to his guests. "But media cannot be independent without economic viability. And that viability must come without government participation." The publisher was quick to dispense advice on journalism ethics. What happens, he was asked during his visit, if a wealthy advertiser insists that a story be killed? "Listen to me," he intoned, "Never, never, never do we let an advertiser influence our independent press!"

Those sonorous words did not emanate from Donald Graham or Arthur Sulzberger Jr., but from William Dean Singleton, one of the most controversial figures in the newspaper world. The New York Times noted his reputation as "the industry's leading skinflint." James Squires, a former editor of the Chicago Tribune, described him as "a rare bird indeed," a "bone-picker publisher . . . who can wring blood from a turnip." Some newspaper veterans view the fifty-one-year-old Singleton as a latter-day Frank Munsey, who buried four New York dailies in the early part of the last century and whom A.J. Liebling called "a mass murderer of newspapers"...

Singleton also owns four cattle ranches in Colorado, along with a home on Cape Cod where, during the summer months, he goes sailing with the musician James Taylor...

 Singleton is the CEO of the privately held MediaNews Group, the seventh-largest newspaper company in the U.S., with forty-eight dailies (and 121 nondailies) in eleven states. The best-known papers in MediaNews are The Denver Post, the Los Angeles Daily News, and The Salt Lake Tribune, which Singleton recently acquired with the aid of the Mormon church...

Read the rest of this CJR story here, and comment below. 

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