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THE TEXAS 13 SERVER October 9, 1987 A Journal of Free Voices $1.50 The Checkered Career Of Dean Singleton AT 3:30 IN THE afternoon of Wednesday, November 5, 1975, pudgy, baby-faced Wil liam Dean Singleton held an impromptu news conference in the grimy and battered newsroom of the newly-revived Fort Worth Press. The 24-year-old publisher, who seldom appeared without his sharkskin suit, patent leather shoes, and a fat cigar “like someone out of a cheap novel,” a former reporter put it announced he was closing the paper and said as of that moment, he no longer was connected to it. After angry reporters started hurling insults and beer cans at him, he vanished, leaving his employees without their final two weeks’ salary and without answers to such questions as why federal withholding taxes and the cost of health insurance was seldom, if ever, handed over to Uncle Sam and the insurance company. How Dean Singleton went from his status as runaway publisher he fled BY BILL ADLER the state, allegedly leaving behind debts of $122,000 to the IRS and $15,000 to a former partner in a weekly paper, a failed marriage, and the wrath of scores of Press staffers, who filed a class-action suit against him to his present status as the wonder-boy head of the nation’s fastest-growing newspaper company, a “media baron,” Business Week recently labeled him, is a storybook tale of good ol’ Texas ingenuity: of old-fashioned horse sense and entrepreneurial chutzpah, of the sleep-like-a-baby security of doing it all with Other People’s Money, and of the cult of can-doism before which self-made Texans never tire of genuflecting. But the story of the native Texan who in 1986 returned to his home state and fashioned himself as a conquering hero in the form of owner of the Dallas Times Herald little more than a decade after he slinked out of the newsroom in Fort Worth and 16 years after he was turned down for a copy editing job at the Times Herald, is also the tale of a man with a seemingly unlimited capacity for ass-kissing and ruthlessness, and a stunning disregard for journalistic quality. The result, say many of the more than two dozen past and present Singleton employees inter viewed for this story, is a lackluster chain of 56 papers in nine states \(28