Dean Singleton, chief executive of the Bay Area’s biggest newspaper group, MediaNews, has sent his employees an eight-page status report on the newspaper industry and changes at his chain of papers. It also recounts an exchange he had with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Here are some quotes from the memo, which was also signed by company President Jody Lodovic, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Rossi:
- • “This year, we’ll generate 89% of total revenue from our core, 7% from online and 4% from niche products. In operating cash flow, we currently generate 73% from core, 22% from online and 5% from niche products. In five years or 2012, we expect 68% of revenue to come from core, 20% from online and 12% from niche.”
• “We have also been very creative about how content is produced, with an emphasis on maintaining quality and localness while sharing resources among newspapers and on making these changes transparent to the reader.”
• “In the San Francisco Bay area, we have consolidated reporting and editing functions to eliminate costly duplication, just as we’ve merged production, administration, accounting and circulation of our newspapers. And in Los Angeles, we’re merging functions of our 9 dailies in areas of news, production, accounting, advertising, circulation and administration.”
• “Dean visited Russia in 2002 and 2003, participating in a media dialogue created by President Bush and President Putin. Joined by our Russian media counterparts, the mission was to redefine a path for putting a free press on a sound economic footing in a new Russian democracy. When President Putin looked across the table and said, ‘Mr. Singleton, I agree with you … democracy cannot succeed without a free press,’ Dean knew the point had been made. (Putin has since back-tracked, but let’s not spoil the story.) As Dean sat across from the Russian and American presidents, chills ran down his spine, and he realized more than ever the importance of an economically viable free press. The Russians, you see, were seeking what we have all taken for granted.”
The parenthesis are theirs.