Thursday, April 27, 2006

Honeymoon In San Jose For Singleton Could Be Short-Lived

As One Columnist Resorts to Butt-Kissing, Harder Reality Lays in Store
Now that Dean Singleton has locked up a good chunk of the Bay Area newspaper market with the purchase of the San Jose Mercury News and three other papers unwanted from the McClatchy purchase of Knight Ridder, the waiting game begins.
Specifically, to see whether it's the Singleton who resuscitated his hometown Denver Post by adding staff (though not as many as he promised), or the Singleton who buys a paper and then napalms the newsroom to cut costs.
The Mercury News shouldn't necessarily be expecting more staff cuts -- Knight Ridder did that quite nicely, thank you -- they and the other minions in Singleton's MediaNews empire have been put on notice that the status quo has got to go.
To wit, this passage buried in the N.Y. Times report about the purchase.

He said it was time to start giving consumers what they want, which was more entertainment news and 'less long series that we love to do but our readers hate to read.'


Maybe Singleton is still smarting over the fact that the arch-rival Rocky Mountain News -- which the Denver Post has a joint operating agreement for business operations -- recently won two Pulitzers.
Even if he's right, and I'm not sure that he is, such pronouncements could signal a sea change in newsgathering at the Mercury News and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, another large KR paper being acquired.
Meantime, Singleton has an ally in Merc News columnist Mike Cassidy, who while he tells us he rooted for someone else besides Singleton to take over his beloved newspaper, he'll butt-kiss like there's no tomorrow now that Dean-O is signing his checks.

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