MediaNews CEO William Singleton, walks through The Detroit News' newsroom after a press conference announcing the paper's sale in 2005. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
William Dean Singleton will retire next month as chairman of MediaNews Group Inc., owner of The Denver Post and The Detroit News.
Singleton, 62, will continue to serve as non-executive chairman of The Post. Mac Tully, president and CEO of the newspaper, will take over from Singleton as publisher.
Singleton said that multiple sclerosis, a condition with which he was diagnosed 26 years ago, has slowed him physically.
“Fighting MS has actually caused me to be healthier in some aspects of my life,” he said. “But it makes it more difficult to do the things you want to do.”
Singleton said he plans to spend more time with his family and at his Colorado cattle ranches in Grand and Jackson counties.
“There are a lot of things I want to do that I haven’t had time to do yet,” he said. “I’ll be thrilled to not be working as hard, but I intend to stay close to The Denver Post.”
Singleton said he will maintain an office at The Post’s downtown Denver headquarters and work in unspecified capacities with senior executives.
Singleton founded MediaNews Group in 1984 with the late Richard B. Scudder, building it to become the second-largest newspaper company in the country as measured by daily circulation.
Scudder died in 2012 at the age of 99.
Singleton brought The News into MediaNews Group in 2005 when Gannett Corp. switched its ownership from The News to the Detroit Free Press.
“Dean has been totally supportive of our efforts in Detroit,” said News publisher and editor Jon Wolman, “and he has been proud to have negotiated the current Joint Operating Agreement that provides our newsroom with the resources we need to serve our readers and digital users across the state of Michigan.”
Singleton and Scudder bought The Denver Post in 1987 from Times Mirror Inc. Singleton then presided over an aggressive, 22-year battle for dominance in the Denver newspaper market with Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps Co., owner of the Rocky Mountain News. The Rocky closed in 2009.
“Dean is a newspaper legend and you don’t replace a legend. Our job now will be to build on the great company Dean has created,” said John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media, a company created to jointly manage publications of MediaNews Group and Journal Register Co.
Singleton had a sometimes contentious relationship with labor unions that represented employees of The Denver Post and other MediaNews Group newspapers, particularly when challenging economics in the newspaper industry required wage freezes and cutbacks in benefits.
“There was some angst,” said Tony Mulligan, administrative officer of the Denver Newspaper Guild. “We didn’t like everything he told us. But I felt he was always upfront with us.”
Singleton began his newspaper career as a part-time reporter in his hometown of Graham, Texas, at the age of 15. He bought his first newspaper when he was 21. Singleton served on the board of the Newspaper Association of America from 1993 until 2004, and was chairman of the group in 2002 and 2003. He was chairman of the Associated Press Board of Directors from 2007 until 2012.