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MediaNews Group co-founder Singleton retiring

Monday - 11/4/2013, 7:19pm  ET

DAN ELLIOTT
Associated Press

DENVER (AP) -- MediaNews Group co-founder William Dean Singleton is retiring as chairman of the company and as publisher of The Denver Post, the company said Monday.

Singleton, 62, will step down before the MediaNews annual meeting in December.

He co-founded MediaNews in 1984 with Richard B. Scudder, and it grew to become the second-largest newspaper company in the nation measured by daily circulation. Scudder died in 2012 at age 99.

The Denver Post is one of MediaNews Group's 57 newspapers.

Singleton was chairman of the board of The Associated Press from 2007 to 2012. He was chairman of the Newspaper Association of America in 2002-2003.

He will remain as non-executive chairman of The Denver Post. He declined to offer specifics about his other plans but said he will remain engaged in the newspaper industry.

"There are numerous things in life that I haven't done yet, and it's time to get to work on them," he told the AP.

Singleton began his newspaper career at age 15, working as a part-time reporter in his hometown of Graham, Texas. He bought his first newspaper at age 21.

"I'm one of the luckiest people alive in that I got to spend a lifetime pursuing the love of my life, which is newspapers," he said.

Recent years have been less fun and more challenging, as newspapers deal with the financial problems of adapting to digital technology, he said.

"Our business, from the time I got into it until seven or eight years ago, was pretty simple," he said. "It's not as simple any more, and I don't know that anybody in our business has figured it out yet. But I think MediaNews is as close to figuring it out as anybody."

The digital component of the industry is growing fast, and the print component is shrinking, but print still accounts for the bigger share of revenue, he said.

"The day must come when digital growth matches print decline, and we're getting closer to that day, although we're not there yet," he said.

Singleton said he is cautiously optimistic about the industry's future.

"The newspaper industry is still very strong and still very profitable, but it's in transition, and (there are) still a lot of unanswered questions about our long-term business model," he said.

A healthy business side is essential to strong journalism, Singleton said.

"If we don't maintain the ability to continue strong journalism, then the democracy is in danger. And I believe we will maintain the ability," he said.

John Paton, CEO of MediaNews Group and Digital First Media, called Singleton a newspaper legend, adding, "you don't replace a legend."

"Our job now will be to build on the great company Dean has created," Paton said in a written statement.

Digital First manages newspapers owned by MediaNews Group and Journal Register Co.

Mac Tully, president and CEO of The Denver Post, will take over as publisher the newspaper.

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Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP


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