William Dean Singleton (born August 1, 1951) is the chairman of the board of directors of the Associated Press, on which he has sat since 1999. He is also the founder, vice chairman and chief executive officer of MediaNews Group, the fourth-largest newspaper company in the United States in terms of circulation, with 53 daily papers totaling 2.7 million subscriptions daily and 3 million on Sunday. Additionally, he serves as publisher of a number of MediaNews' dailies, including the Denver Post, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Detroit News.
Singleton was born in Graham, Texas. He began his newspaper career at the age of 15 as a part-time reporter in Graham and bought his first newspaper at age 21.
Singleton has built his newspaper company through the acquisition of newspapers frequently on the edge of closure. In some cases, such as the Fort Worth Press and the Houston Post, he has purchased successful newspapers, yet later closed them. In other cases — the Denver Post and the Oakland Tribune — he has taken papers and tried to reinvigorate profits out of them, usually through massive layoffs and centralizing the news bureaus of several papers.
Singleton was a pioneer in "clustering" — developing groups of newspapers that centralized a variety of functions, including production, ad sales, business operations and, in some cases, editorial. An example of this was the Alameda Newspaper Group in suburban San Francisco, where in the mid-1990s, a central newsroom in Pleasanton, Calif. did all the copy editing, layout and page makeup for five daily papers. Upon acquiring the diverse group of papers, Singleton consolidated several news sections (like sports and features) to one local office away from the metropolitan area, having a few reporters do the job of what had been many individuals. In the San Francisco Bay area, Singleton is particularly notorious for consolidating and downsizing the papers he acquired and has had dozens of veteran journalists laid-off, often in tears.
He was also a pioneer at developing pooled-asset partnerships. Among the first were papers in California, which included papers from Gannett Co. Inc., Stephens Media Group and MediaNews. Singleton's company contributed Los Angeles Daily News and the ANG operation, as well as other papers, while Stephens contributed papers such as the Vallejo Times Herald and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin of Ontario. A year after forming the partnership, the duo allowed Gannett to enter, with its contributions including the San Bernardino Sun and the Marin Independent Journal.
MediaNews has entered into similar partnerships in Texas and Pennsylvania with Gannett and in Colorado with The E.W. Scripps Company.
Singleton vexed journalists throughout the late part of the 20th century, with the newsroom staff of the Fort Worth Press throwing beer cans at him in the 1970s and the former editor of the Trenton Times telling the Columbia Journalism Review in the 1980s that under Singleton's cutbacks, "The public has lost a watchdog and gained a bulletin board."
In the late 1990s, Singleton began shifting his view that rather than merely a cost center, the newsroom was also an asset. He lured Gregory Moore, the former assistant managing editor of the Boston Globe, to the Denver Post and together the two worked to improve the paper's journalism.
Singleton's empire began rapid growth in the early part of the 21st Century, when he acquired in rapid succession daily newspapers in Salt Lake City, Detroit, St. Paul, Minnesota, and San Jose, California.
Singleton served on the board of the Newspaper Association of America from 1993 until 2004 and is the former board chairman.
He serves on several boards in Colorado, including The Helen G. Bonfils Foundation, The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Winter Park Recreational Association Board, and the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center, the National Sports Center for the Disabled. In addition, he is a former member of the board of trustees for University of Denver.
He is married to the former Adrienne Casale of Fairfield, N.J. They have three children, William, Paige, and Adam.
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