Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Scripps team" did not hope Dean Singleton might die

While the competition in Denver between the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post was rough and tumble, neither side lost its humanity.

That's why I was stunned to read a claim in a 5280 magazine article about the closing of the Rocky that there was was "a 'hope' among the Scripps team" that Dean Singleton, owner of the Post, might die, clearing the way for them to own the last paper standing in Denver. I was at the helm of the Rocky Mountain News for 11 years and never heard any such sentiment expressed. And I spoke with top Scripps executives and board members repeatedly over the years about the situation in Denver.There was a hope among some of the team (count me among them) that Scripps would be the survivor in Denver (some financial types never saw the prize as worth winning). And there was a belief that Scripps control might be possible given the 50-year term of the JOA and the staying power of the company. But to let someone anonymously ascribe such a desire to a team of executives is journalistically irresponsible. It gives a totally false impression of the dynamic. Sure there was sometimes tension between the two sides. And of course Scripps executives knew that Singleton had health problems. It's no secret to those in the newspaper industry. But the main reason some in Scripps could see a possible way to be the survivor in Denver was that Singleton runs a highly leveraged business and it was believed that at some point he might need or want to exit the market. In the end, Scripps decided it didn't want to be in business anymore in Denver. While that may be a decision worthy of criticism, it's flat-out wrong to give the impression that his business partners actually "hoped" he might die.

65 comments:

  1. While I agree with you that the assertion that Scripps execs hoped for the untimely demise of Dean Singleton was journalistic rubbish, I find it to be a minor note in a story that raises larger, vexing questions. I would rather see you respond to questions about how you reconciled your dual roles as a Scripps exec and final arbiter of editorial content at the Rocky, especially when it came to such Scripps-sensitive material as David Milstead's column. How do you explain your decision to override the widely respected judgment of a reporter and his expert sources in the industry? And how do you respond to those who connect your role as a corporate executive to the decision to raise the bar for David's reporting in that particular case? It's a fair question. Also, although I believe intuitively and through sources within Scripps that you fought for a different outcome, your efforts remain invisible to those of us who raised our voices on behalf of our Rocky. At some point, I'd like to know for sure that we were fighting on the same side. Kim Humphreys

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  2. Thank you for your comment, Kim. I hope you saw my most recent post about the 5280 article. I think it responds to many of your questions. I hope it helps you. As for your final statement/question, I did what I thought was best to help achieve a different outcome, and that was to put out the best newspaper and Web site possible right until the end and to do everything I could to encourage any potential buyer about why the Rocky was worth investing in. I can't imagine anybody thinking I actually wanted the Rocky to close. That's a new one. Why would I want to lose a job and see the paper I had invested 17 years of my life in disappear? Please...

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  3. From the concern information regarding the teams notion,Scripps executives knew that Singleton had health problems. It's no secret to those in the newspaper industry.There are many news which are not always right but the air of that news mix very fast because the profile of the authors or big one increases by doing the publicity exclusiveness.I would rather see you respond to questions about how you reconciled your dual roles as a Scripps exec and final arbiter of editorial content and aspects.

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