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.