Contra Costa Editor Blogs Singleton’s Sudden Visit: ‘Everyone Is Breathing Again’

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By: E&P Staff

On his blog at his paper’s Web site, Chris Lopez, editor of the Contra Costa Times, was first this morning to suggest that the big MediaNews/McClatchy deal involving his newspaper and others would be announced this afternoon. It came to pass, and later in the day, he blogged the appearance of his new boss, Dean Singleton, in his newsroom.

And it went like this (drum roll, please).

*

Dean Singleton, who controls MediaNews, came into the Contra Costa Times newsroom this evening for a question and answer session with our employees. He said all the right things, opening with an anecdote about his relationship with Dean Lesher, the founder of the Times.

He said he was “honored to buy the best pieces of Knight Ridder,” adding, “I guarantee you we got the best pieces and over the next few years we’ll show them that.” That was in reference to the sale of Knight Ridder, the current owner of the Times, to McClatchy and then McClatchy divesting itself of 12 of the KR papers, including Contra Costa and the San Jose Mercury News.

Singleton has a nice run of newspapers across the Rocky Mountains with the Denver Post, Salt Lake City Tribune, and now Contra Costa and San Jose adding to his properties in Northern California. Contra Costa will become the fifth largest newspaper in the MediaNews chain once MediaNews closes the deal and assumes ownership. In order, the top 5 would be the Denver Post, San Jose Mercury News, Detroit News, St. Paul Pioneer Press and Contra Costa. He also owns the Oakland Tribune and a variety of other papers in the Bay Area.

He said the publishers at Contra Costa, San Jose and Oakland all will stay in place, or at least he hopes they will accept his offer to remain. He said he expects the management teams at the newspapers to remain intact, and that there would be no layoffs or changes to benefits.

If there are any changes, he said, those will be decided not by him but by the local management of the newspapers. He said he wouldn’t collapse or consolidate any of the newspaper mastheads, meaning that while his existing Tri-Valley Herald publishes in the same area as Contra Costa’s Valley Times, he sees both publications remaining.

I’ve had several staff members swing in to say they feel better now that they’ve heard Singleton talk for himself. Everyone is breathing again, and our full attention should swing back to journalism and producing as strong a newspaper each morning as we can.

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