‘Deal’ Singleton Appears in St. Paul, Retains Ridder

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By: E&P Staff

In a visit to the newspaper office on Thursday, William Dean Singleton said that the St. Paul Pioneer Press, now owned by Knight Ridder, won’t see major changes after his company, MediaNews Group, becomes its owner in a few months.

“You’re joining us because we want you,” Singleton told employees. “We think there’s a lot of opportunity here and if we didn’t want it, we wouldn’t have bought it.”

The deal “won’t cause the loss of jobs, wages or benefits at the Pioneer Press,” Singleton said, according to an article for Knight Ridder newspapers. He added that labor contracts will be up to local management. Publisher Par Ridder will remain.

On Wednesday, it was announced that MediaNews, teaming with Hearst Corp., is buying the St. Paul paper and three California papers in a $1 billion deal.

The Knight Ridder report continued:

“Sporting a navy pinstripe suit and a Texas drawl, Singleton said he intends to continue competing with the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune. That will involve going after growing areas on the fringe of the Twin Cities and trying to take away market share.

“He said he’s ‘totally on board’ with the newspaper’s current strategy, which involves pursuing local news and local advertisers – both large and small – to keep the paper growing.

“‘You’ll be happy after the closing,’ Singleton said. ‘You will barely know it happens.’

“Singleton said given the challenging newspaper industry environment, he couldn’t promise there would never be layoffs at the paper. But he added if there are, they’ll be in response to local market conditions.

“Singleton generated laugher and applause when he explained why he won’t pursue a joint operating agreement with the Star Tribune….

“Afterwards, several employees said they found the meeting reassuring.”

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