Dean Singleton announced yesterday that he is stepping down as CEO of MediaNews Group—the Denver based company that owns the San Jose Mercury News along with most of the newspapers in the Bay Area.
Amid speculation that the move was forced on him by a New York hedge fund that controls the company, Singleton insisted that he wants to focus on strategic planning and leave day-to-day management behind. He admitted that poor health influenced his decision—Singleton has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.
Jody Lodovic, Singleton’s long-time right-hand man, also resigned his position as president yesterday, and gave up his seat on the company’s board of directors. Reports suggest Lodovic quit after being told that MediaNews would be conducting a national search for a new CEO. It has been considered common knowlege for some time that Lodovic would succeed Singleton as CEO.
MediaNews’ parent company, Affiliated Media, declared bankruptcy last January, and controlling equity was issued to a group of creditors led by Bank of America Corp. Much of that equity has since passed to Alden Global Capitol, a New York-based hedge fund. It was announced yesterday that two seats on the MediaNews Board of Directors will be turned over to Alden Global.
MediaNews bought the Mercury News on August 2006 from McClatchy Corp., five months after McClatchy’s purchase of Knight-Ridder. Singleton borrowed most of the money required for the purchase. The resulting debt obligations, along with the decreasing advertising revenues, hurt the newspaper financially: under Singleton the newspaper decimated its staff and page counts while consolidating operations with its other Bay Area publications.
In addition to the Mercury News, Media News owns the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, Marin Independent Journal, Santa Cruz Sentinel and the Monterey County Herald, as well as the Silicon Valley Community Newspapers group of weeklies.