Singleton Tells Newspaper Leaders: ‘Discard Our Arrogance’

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By: Joe Strupp

MediaNews Group CEO William Dean Singleton urged newspaper executives at the World Newspaper Congress in Sweden to “discard our arrogance” and focus more on what the reader needs, according to the Denver Business Journal.

Singleton, whose newspaper holdings include The Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News, “sounded a warning to his battered industry, saying it should prepare to move to a new business model that embraces the Internet while not giving up on the core print product,” the Journal reported.

“Once and for all, we’re going to have to quit writing and editing for each other and write and edit for that consumer out there,” he said, according to the report, which added that he “chided newspaper people who ‘fondly remember the past as if it will suddenly reappear’ in his remarks at Monday’s opening session.”

“It’s time to get over it and move to a print model that matches the times,” Singleton said, according to reports from the conference.
“In an era when many large newspaper chains are selling off properties or spinning off divisions in the face of steep revenue declines, Singleton’s privately held MediaNews has been busy acquiring newspapers in recent years, including several in California,” the Journal stated. MediaNews now operates nearly 60 newspapers in 12 states.

Singleton also repeated his past belief that half his company’s operating profit will come from his online business by 2012 and 40% from newspapers, with the rest from “niche” publications.

But Singleton said he still believes in print. “The core [newspapers] must stay strong while we develop our future, because the core will finance the future,” he told the conference. “Our newspapers and partnerships have, in the past two years, invested almost half a billion dollars in new, modern and efficient printing and mailroom plants. Why? Because these investments help make our core more efficient as revenue is challenged. Efficiency in our core product is a key building block in our new strategy.”

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