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Interview: MediaNews’ Singleton On What’s Ailing Newspapers: It’s The Economy, Not The Internet

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imageIt’s been a rough few years for the newspaper business. With the migration of readers and advertisers from print to online, and then the past year’s economic downturn and market meltdown this month, it’s hard to figure out where the fixes are going to come from. William Dean Singleton, CEO of Denver-based publisher MediaNews Group and chairman of the AP board, believes he can address the challenge presented by online media to newspapers by tying print and interactive ad sales more closely together and by relying on cooperative services from Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), the AP and real estate ad net Zillow. But the economy, that’s a whole other problem. I spoke with Singleton following Yahoo’s heralding of its APT display ad sales delivery and targeting system last week. During the Yahoo press conference, Singleton said he expects up to 22 percent of the privately-held company’s revenue this year will come from online newspapers, with that number reaching 50 percent in five years. Rather than looking too far ahead though, our conversation focused on the here and now.

More from Singleton on convergent ad sales and the AP after the jump.

It’s the economy: Singleton: “The biggest thing we need right now is an improved economy, because at least 60 percent of the revenue problem we

8 Responses to “Interview: MediaNews’ Singleton On What’s Ailing Newspapers: It’s The Economy, Not The Internet”

  1. frederick

    Seem's majority of comments are from those past/present working for Singleton's papers like myself. Bottomline here is that this is a business & unfortunate decisions have to be made sometimes. If the need to vent should be directed anywhere

  2. Dean Miller

    Did Singleton really say: "The AP gave $21 million in fees back to the members and they weren’t complaining before they gave it back…"?????
    It's hard to imagine an AP board chairman (and newspaper owner) who wasn't aware that members have complained about rising costs during the recent tough years for newspapers.
    He's disingenous, or worse, badly served by AP staff.

  3. Newspaper manager

    It is frustrating to see such a key publisher so disconnected from his industry:
    1) How does he expect to see online revenue at 22 percent when he is cutting, not investing?
    2) Consolidated sales may be the way to go, but then why aren't the sales and executive staffs at his newspapers compensated accordingly?
    3) AP is a terrible deal for newspapers. AP has destroyed its value to newspapers by making the national report available to any Web site (for a fraction of the cost papers pay) while cutting the regional report. The supplementals can fill the void at a fraction of the price – allowing editors to save some jobs and readers to maybe get something they haven't already seen on Google, AOL or Comcast.

  4. "Unifying print and online sales"

    Yes, newspapers have gone back and forth on this issue (separate vs unified)… because they can't figure out how to make either way work.

    And if you want to go for unified sales, you need operations and creative unified as well… Wave your magic wand, Dean…

  5. Dean Singleton is one of the biggest failures in life we may see in our time. Just the fact he is chairman of the AP board is a strong signal for newspapers to run as far away from AP as they can get.

    His attempt to use percentages to justify the means is laughable. Earth to Dean: Try cutting all of your staff (I'm sure this thought has crossed your mind already), but then keep AP. Have fun sitting on raw copy and photos with no editors to review it and to separate the gold from the garbage. Good luck localizing any of it. And then there's the real problem: Readers likely have already seen 98 percent of the AP copy by the time the paper comes out.

    Of course, he doesn't grasp this concept, as he's still locked into the old method of waiting for AP to send some stories and a photo, and then newspapers — without incurring any expenses — should magically transform these raw materials into a product that will provide an infinite profit margin. If that does not happen, then it's time to blame the editors/economy/readers/Internets/environment/businesses/advertisers.

    Dean Singleton: Failure at life.

  6. not a medianews reporter

    Here's a clown who hasn't learned a dang thing from all the papers he has destroyed by over-syndicating content and removing anything in them that resembled local news: "I don’t believe a newspaper operation can function without AP."

    Right, Dean old boy, it's the economy. And not your complete incompetence and lack of understanding of the media industry.
    You keep telling yourself that.