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Dean makes a move

Thu, Mar 12, 2009

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Nobody ever accused Media News Group titan Dean Singleton of being dumb.

Once The Rocky Mountain News closed, the Denver Newspaper Agency’s presses had a lot of surplus capacity.  So Dean went looking for partners – and who did he find?

Not the logical partner – that’d be The Gazette, whose ancient, cranky presses have multiple problems, including frequent off-register color reproduction.  Instead, Media News made a deal with the Gannett-owned daily in Fort Collins.

It might seem like the Gazette missed an opportunity, but I don’t think so.  Singleton is not only smarter than you or me, but he’s a notoriously tough, even ruthless, negotiator.  No sensible person would give him that kind of leverage – as in “I’m so sorry, but we won’t be able to get your Sunday paper printed until Wednesday … sorry!”

But Gannett, a far more powerful company than either Freedom or Media News, can take that risk.  Dean’s the junior partner here, despite owning the larger paper.

If you’re going to sup with the devil, bring a long spoon – and Dean’s too smart to get in a fight with Gannett.  Indeed, the two companies reputedly once partnered in an effort to acquire both The Gazette and The Pueblo Chieftain back in the palmy days when owning a monopoly metro daily was as close to a sure thing as – oh, say, Citigroup stock!

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