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The company published 57 daily newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Detroit News, and the Salt Lake Tribune. Its flagship paper was the Denver Post. It also owned a handful of radio and television stations.
MediaNews was founded by Dean Singleton and Richard Scudder in 1983 and became one of the largest U.S. newspaper publishers through a series of acquisitions. The company’s most recent purchase was in January 2011, when it acquired three newspapers in Colorado for an undisclosed sum. In 2006, MediaNews bought four former Knight Ridder papers, including the Mercury News and Pioneer Press.
Beginning in 2011, MediaNews was managed together with the Journal Register Co. by John Paton of the newly created Digital First Media. Alden Global Capital, which was a major investor in MediaNews, also owned the Journal Register.
Singleton and MediaNews long had a reputation for making profits off of struggling papers by cutting costs. Singleton advocated outsourcing both newsgathering and editing functions as a way to save money.
Facing $930 million in debt (though as few as one newspaper may have been losing money), MediaNews’ holding company, Affiliated Media, filed for bankruptcy in January 2010. It exited bankruptcy two months later, having cut its debt to $165 million in exchange for giving up majority ownership to its lenders. In January 2011, as part of a broad executive shakeup, Singleton was ousted as CEO and reassigned to executive chairman; MediaNews President Joseph Lodovic was fired. Singleton retired from the company in 2013.
MediaNews moved into paywalls by signing onto Press+’s system for paid content online. The company initially launched paid-content plans based on the Financial Times’ metered model at 26 of its small- and medium-sized papers. In 2011, three of those papers dropped Monday print editions, making web access free on those days. MediaNews dropped its initial paywalls in 2012 because of poor revenue, then relaunched them later that year before spreading them across all of Digital First’s papers in 2013.
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