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September 13, 2011 > Paton appointed CEO of MediaNews Group

Paton appointed CEO of MediaNews Group

Submitted By AP Wire Service

SAN FRANCISCO (AP), Sep 07 - John Paton has been appointed CEO of MediaNews Group Inc., replacing William Dean Singleton, who announced in January he would step down as chief executive.

The Denver Post reported Wednesday ( that Singleton, also chairman of The Associated Press, will remain chairman of MediaNews and publisher of The Post and The Salt Lake Tribune, two of more than 50 newspapers owned by Denver-based MediaNews.

MediaNews also said it entered into an agreement with newly created Digital First Media, headed by Paton, to provide management services and lead the execution of the company's business strategy.

Paton and Digital First Media will also manage The Journal Register Co., which has 18 newspapers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Connecticut, Ohio, New Jersey and New York, and other publications and websites.

MediaNews said in a news release the arrangement with Digital First provides immediate cost benefits and the ability to leverage the combined scale and expertise of MediaNews and Journal Register to benefit both companies.

``We said in January that MediaNews was intent on continuing its transformation from a print-oriented newspaper company to a locally focused provider of news and information across multiple platforms to profitably address the rapidly changing industry landscape,'' Singleton said in the release.

``At the forefront of our efforts was developing a successful digital strategy. I have known and respected John Paton for more than 20 years. With `digital first', John has successfully implemented just such a digital strategy for Journal Register. We are delighted to tap John's experience as we accelerate further our successful transition to a digital world.''

Gordon Paris, who has been MediaNews' interim president since the beginning of the year, and Michael Sileck, interim chief revenue officer, will continue in those roles throughout a transition period.

Paris will remain a director of the company and after the transition period will serve as an adviser to the company focusing on strategic transactions.

MediaNews Group's parent, Affiliated Media Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2010. Like other newspaper publishers, Affiliated had borrowed heavily before Internet competition and the recession ate away at advertising revenue, making it difficult to repay loans.

Affiliated emerged from bankruptcy protection two months later with its $930 million debt reduced to about $165 million. In exchange, its lenders acquired 89 percent of Affliated's common stock.

Singleton, who co-founded and became CEO of MediaNews in 1983, emerged from the reorganization with an 11 percent stake in the company.

In January, MediaNews Group said it planned to replace Singleton as its CEO so he could focus on exploring possible combinations with other publishers while his successor tries to make more money on the Internet.

MediaNews Group in August announced it was combining most of its daily newspapers in the San Francisco Bay area to save money on print editions so the company can invest in ways to bring in more revenue from the Internet and mobile devices.

Beginning Nov. 2, those dozen or so newspapers will shed their distinct identities and adopt one of two new brands, the East Bay Tribune and The Times. The Bay Area News Group, a division that operates the affected newspapers, expects to reduce a staff of 1,500 by about 8 percent, or 120. An office in Walnut Creek, Calif., will close.

Most of the cuts are expected to occur within the newsrooms and operations that print the newspapers.

The largest newspapers affected are The Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek. The Oakland, Calif., newspaper will be folded into the East Bay Tribune brand along with the Alameda Times-Star, The Daily Review, The Argus in Fremont and West County Times in Richmond, Calif. The Contra Costa Times will be blended with The Valley Times, San Ramon Valley Times, Tri-Valley Herald, San Joaquin Herald and East County Times.

Most of those newspapers already had been re-classified as editions of MediaNews' largest Bay-area newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News. But the newspapers retained their own names, making that switch less noticeable to readers.

In another change announced last month, the Mercury News' brand will be stamped on the San Mateo County Times, another nearby daily owned by MediaNews.

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