The interview offers hints about what's next for MediaNews. Consolidation, of course, is on the agenda. Singleton couches the consolidation plans in talk of expansion, which would indicate that mergers with are on the horizon too add to company's properties, since even he can't spin shrinking as a form of growth.
He also talks about mobile and social media strategies, which MediaNews has been working on some time. And Singleton offers a more cautious view of pay walls than I've read before:
"We're experimenting with pay walls, but there's no certainty pay walls are going to work," he concedes. "The best reason to have a pay wall is that it sends a message to consumers that all information is not free. And I think having sent the message for fifteen years that it is, we need to send a different message -- that all information isn't free. Although you can't have a total pay wall, because we're generating a lot of traffic, and a lot of revenue, for the content we have."MediaNews has already outlined a strategy where features, sports and some user-generated content would go behind pay walls, with breaking news still free. But the statement above, along with the desire to merge operations with other papers, makes me wonder if MediaNews wants to limit pay walls to niche content, such as Politico has done with its Politico Pro.
Then there is Singleton's homage to news, a sentiment most people who work (or worked) on the news side would have liked to have seen in practice when he was wielding the axe:
"Newspapering is my primary love, and the news side is my real passion. Having been a CEO for 27 years at MediaNews and for eight years prior to that for another company that I didn't own, I've been a newspaper CEO for 35 years. And I've been very much a businessman, because that's what you have to do to build a company. I love the business side of newspapering, no question. But my first love is and always has been the news side. And I don't have any intentions of drawing a breath of life outside of newspapering."A nice career epitaph. I'm not sure it will stick.