The company that owns most of the newspapers in Mendocino County--along with most print media in Northern California--is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The company said Friday that it would file a reorganization plan already approved by lenders in a bid to emerge from bankruptcy more quickly...MediaNews Group Chairman William Dean Singleton said company management, newspaper operations, employees and vendors wouldn't be affected by the Denver holding company's restructuring.
Not that there's anyone left to layoff. Singleton, after all, is Mr. Corporate Media himself--the man who consolidated Northern California's print media into a near monolith, a sprawling blob of understaffed "properties;" the man who once said he'd rather please one banker than a thousand journalists; the man who moved the Connecticut newsroom where I once worked into the attic of a Bed, Bath & Beyond as soon as the deal was done.
So what, then, will chapter 11 mean for our local press? According to the Daily Journal, Singleton said it'll give MediaNews "one of the strongest balance sheets in the industry" and "breathing space to create a new model for the newspapers we publish."
Right. If MediaNews's old business model was any indication, we can only imagine what that "new" one might look like...Goodbye Willits, Mendocino, Ukiah and Fort Bragg--hello Bangalore!
Mark Scaramella adds:
The business press basically says that Singleton got so carried away in buying up newspapers that he borrowed too much money to do it. Many people have wondered how he was going to pay for all those newspaper acquisitions. Now it’s clear: he’s not going to pay back his investors. He’s simply stiffing them. Singleton now owns a de facto news organization monopoly across several states, and in Mendocino County, and he got it for about 20 cents on the dollar — and he still controls the company even though he only owns 20% of it. Charles Hurwitz, eat your heart out.
Singleton also owns the AP Wire Service, a factoid we only recently discovered. So besides owning most of the chain papers on the West Coast of the United States and all the chain papers in Mendocino County, Singleton’s organization decides what wire stories will be fed to most of the other papers, including the many wire stories in the New York Times-owned Santa Rosa Press Democrat. And who is William Dean Singleton? A self-described “Texas farm boy” whose politics are somewhere to the right of Rupert Murdoch, Singleton is the guy who asked Obama what he was going to do about “Obama bin Laden” to his face at an AP press conference in mid-2008. Obama, ever the cool customer, said, “I think that’s Osama bin Laden.” Singleton, unconvincingly apologized for his “Barney Fag” style gaff, then Obama said, “No, that’s OK. I’ve come to expect that kind of thing in last few months.”
Suppose this is really, really inside stuff, but for interested readers there’s more on Media News, the Chron, and Hearst at this website.