that you might need in the future. This is very important. Please, please have your wives shop at Mitchell’s today and redeem as many coupons as possible. The COUPONS ARE VERY IMPORTANT. DON’T FORGET THEM. Your jobs depend on results from these ads. I’ll see you at Mitchell’s today!!! ” Just how many of his employees Singleton saw that day at Mitchell’s is unknown, but it was not long after that that Singleton held his infamous press conference in the newsroom, blaming everybody and anybody for the paper’s demise, especially the editor, Bill McAda, for whom he had worked at the Dallas Morning News. Many of the reporters present let it be known they disagreed with his disingenuous analysis, snarling and even shouting at Singleton. “Not only that,” says one reporter who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “some guys threw beer cans at him. It was hilarious.” Tim Elledge, an investigative reporter at the time who now lives in Tennessee, recalls clearly Singleton’s remarks. “He issued a statement to the effect that the Press folded because of Bill McAda’s poor management. I got up and believe me, it takes a lot to get me mad enough to talk to a TV reporter and said the man was lying, and had lied to everybody during his tenure at the Press. Bill McAda had worked 18-, 20hour days, often without getting paid for it.” That’s when Singleton disappeared, allegedly leaving McAda, whom Singleton had named a vice president of Singleton Enterprises, holding the bag on a $122,000 debt to the IRS for nonpayment of employee withholding taxes although the taxes were deducted from paychecks. \(McAda says the IRS dropped the case against him when he proved he had no fiscal control of the company; Singleton says his partner, George DeArmond, who is deceased, ended up settling with the IRS for about Strapped for cash toward the end, the paper’s printer required he show up each evening with a cashier’s check Singleton skedaddled without paying his staff for their final two weeks of work. They filed a class action suit against him, but never collected a cent due to the company’s lack of assets. Nor, it was alleged, did Singleton bother with the messy detail of forwarding payroll deductions for health insurance premiums to the supposed insurer. In an interview, Singleton said he could not recall whether or not the premiums were paid. “I don’t think it’s true,” he said, “but I don’t know. That was 12 years Singleton “We’ve gone around putting successful newspapers together. And yes, you have to cut some costs. If, you don’t do it, you can’t make it.” ago.” Singleton said he relinquished control of the paper in mid-October 1975 and therefore was not responsible for the final paychecks. He said he returned on November 5 “because I felt very bad about the whole thing.” Singleton and his wife, Cynthia, divorced around the time the paper closed. He claims that his single-minded devotion to work strained the marriage. “She didn’t understand, and I wasn’t going to change,” he recently told The New York Times. His personal and professional life in Texas in a shambles, Singleton landed a job at the end of 1975 with a Boston insurance company that repossessed failing newspapers, said Bill Lowe, his former father-in-law, with whom he remains in touch. On a visit to one such paper, in Westfield, Massachusetts, Singleton met an assistant to Joe Allbritton, the Houston financier who had recently bought the Washington Star. A short time later, he met Allbritton himself, who told Singleton he planned to buy the Westfield paper and invited him to run it. Before long, Allbritton assigned Singleton to lead in the purchase of a group of financially-troubled dailies that Allbritton Communications could turn around. By 1978, at the age of 27, he was president of the company’s newspaper division and president of each of its five dailies. It was during his days as Allbritton’s protege that Singleton developed and refined his union-busting, cut-and-slash approach to newspapering. When he bought the on behalf of Allbritton in 1981, for instance, he promptly laid off a third of the news staff. This, shortly after he reporters at The News of Paterson with the National Labor Relations Board to petition for a union election. The Meanest SOB “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the death, I shall fear no evil for I am the meanest SOB in the Valley!” sign on the wall above Singleton’s desk in Paterson THE CITY OF Paterson, New Jersey, had been dying slowly and painfully since the Second World War. An old mill town with a rich and colorful history, Paterson was also a great newspaper town when Dean Singleton acquired the family-owned News for Allbritton in 1978. But the paper had been losing money, caught in the crossfire between the wellregarded Bergen Record in nearby Hackensack, which garnered the lion’s share of the high-end retail advertising market, and the Newark Star-Ledger, the flagship of the Newhouse chain, which was the only statewide newspaper. -The News and its cast of characters were right out of “The Front Page,” said a reporter there at the time. The atmosphere in the newsroom, he said, “was akin to that of the bottom of a dirty ashtray.” By day’s end, he said, he “was usually desperate for a shower.” But neither the shabby environment nor the sullen faces in the advertising department deterred the young and talented editorial staff from some enterprising and courageous reporting. In July 1980, for example, The News planned to publish a five-part series on the state of the city’s minorities. Two reporters worked full-time for six weeks on the story, which cast a critical eye on Paterson’s city fathers. After the first story appeared, Patrick McDonnell, one of the reporters who worked on the project, told an interviewer, “a representative of the Chamber of Commerce called and complained that the series would cause riots.” The paper’s editor, John Buzzetta, who reporters believed was under pressure from Singleton, asked that the series be rewritten. They THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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