Newspapers record history as it happens – by bob sweeney

It is becoming lonely in the newspaper industry for local ownership.  Newspapers started being purchased by chains back in the 1970s.  They were profitable, especially the family-owned newspapers that grew as their cities prospered and thrived with growing populations.  Massive newspaper fortunes were accumulated by famous owners like Randolph Hearst.

Dean Singleton became one of the major newspaper owners in America.  He should, and will go down in history, as the most successful and historic newspaper owner in Colorado newspaper history.  No one comes even close to his rise in the industry and presidencies of The National Newspaper Association and The Associated Press.  He traveled to Russia to bring press freedoms to the former USSR.  At the peak of his career he owned in the vicinity of 160 publications, many of them major U.S. newspapers, including The Denver Post and The Salt Lake Tribune.

I once traveled with him to a Nebraska football game in his private jet plane.  He was wealthy, healthy, and wise  and had not been diagnosed with MS. This dread disease attempted to slow his newspaper pace, but Dean pressed onward.  Even from a wheelchair he operated his newspapers successfully until the world started to change.  Newspapers started to decline because of a faltering economy and the rise of social media, Craig’s list,  and the Internet.  

The Denver Post won the newspaper war with the Cincinnati, OH  Scripts/Howard chain bowing out of The Rocky Mountain News.  The outgoing publisher at the Rocky told me that Singleton “moved fast” while he waited for decisions from the Ohio home office. He proclaimed, “He just beat us.”

Scripts didn’t have to close The Rocky, but chains look at the bottom line.  At that point in time I  subscribed to the newspaper for $4 a year. I offered to purchase two years but was turned away.  

The trend to profitability engulfed the newspaper industry and Singleton, because of illness and a challenging economy, he retired from his newspapers and sold them to Alden Capital, a New York Hedge Fund.  He kept his Alaska newspapers, recently selling them.

The new owners of The Denver Post lived up to their reputation of cutting news staffs.  They sold the downtown building and reduced staff by wide margins to regain profitability, achieving that goal.  Contrary to rumor,  and hit hard by COVID-19,  The Denver Post is surviving and making a profit.  They are not going anywhere, at least not soon, as Alden Capital just purchased The Tribune’s vast newspaper chain for around $630 million. The Denver Post now has some major partners and apparently deep pockets.

Now, we have the entry of Phil Anschutz’s Denver Gazette, an all- digital publication that is doing excellent reporting in Denver as a moderate publication in a very progressive leftist atmosphere. Their major newspaper is The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph printed in Denver by The Denver Post.  (It’s becoming a confusing picture.)

The former Denver Post beleaguered staff started  a non-profit Colorado Sun where this talented group of writers have gone forth with their digital only newspaper for several years.  It has not been a financial success to date and in a recent public TV video lamented their financial stress.

But, coming on the scene, an unknown non-profit called The National Trust for Local News has bankrolled The Colorado Sun and together  have recently purchased 24 suburban newspapers from the Healey family.  That includes area newspapers such as The Littleton Independent, Highlands Ranch Herald, Lone Tree Voice, Douglas County News-Press and 20 others.

Operating a newspaper is hard, dedicated work. My family will attest to that as we have published The Villager a few months shy of 40 years in Arapahoe County with headquarters in Greenwood Village.  The news business has never been better; we’re the only newspaper left with a society editor covering non-profit events.

We attend city council meetings and chamber events routinely.

Primarily a print publication, we like putting ink on newsprint and we also print at The Denver Post plant in Berthoud.

At last report the Sun newspapers are being printed in Cheyenne, Wyo.  How long will a digital newspaper organization publish 24- print newspapers that are very expensive to print and mail?

Our game plan is to be aggressive in our reporting, creative in our marketing, and continuing to attend and cover non-profit events. We cherish our advertisers, many who have been with us for decades, despite some April Fools gaffs.  We’ve had more hits on our web page recently than ever in the history of the newspaper.

We will continue to print and mail to our faithful subscribers. Many subscribers started with us almost 40 years ago are now residing in  retirement homes  and still subscribing to this  local newspaper; sending us nice notes on how much they love this newspaper along with their checks.

Newspapers record history as it happens, this is important for the present, the past, and the future.  We forge onward with your help.

We invite you to join us 303-773-8313.

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