Post publisher: Bennet atop Ritter’s list before Salazar took Interior job

In a wide-ranging one-on-one with Colorado Statesman editor Jody Hope Strogoff, Denver Post owner and publisher Dean Singleton says he “wasn’t surprised” Michael Bennet won appointment to the U.S. Senate. According to Singleton, Bennet “was at the top” of Gov. Bill Ritter’s list of potential replacements for Democratic U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar even before Salazar decided to take a job in the Obama administration as secretary of Interior.

[Colorado Statesman]: Were you surprised by [Bennet’s] selection?

[Dean Singleton]: Long before Ken Salazar decided to leave the Senate and go to the Cabinet, the governor privately discussed with me the candidates he would consider appointing, and Michael was at the top of his list early on. So I really wasn’t surprised.

I thought that the better choice would have been (Denver Mayor John) Hickenlooper — for a lot of reasons.

And both I and The Denver Post supported an appointment of Hickenlooper. I know a lot of people did, and so I kind of thought the governor, if he listened to enough people, would probably pick Hickenlooper.

But when he did pick Bennet, I wasn’t surprised because he had had him at the top of his list the first time he and I discussed it, which was even before Ken decided for sure whether to take the Interior job.

Among myriad other tidbits in the lengthy interview, Singleton says he urged Republican U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard to run for a third term last year, despite the Post having endorsed his opponent in 2002.

And there will be zoned editions of the Post, Singleton says:

CS: What about The Post moving more towards covering the suburban areas?

DS: The Post will have zoned editions again. Zoned editions are on the drawing board.[…]

Now that we’re down to one newspaper instead of two, it’s inevitable that we will probably go to do some daily zoning, as well.

It was difficult to do daily zoning when there were two newspapers, because of the cost. If you put out a zone in the geographic area of both The Post and The Rocky, you had to generate copy for both. Now it’s just The Post, so it’s inevitable that we’ll do some zoning.

We’ve been talking to advertisers about it, so it’s probably leaked out.

It won’t be like Your Hub, which has 40 zones. I can see four zones, so that we can do a better job of covering the news and, more importantly, a better job of targeting advertising. We realized our need to zone before, but we couldn’t do it with two newspapers. We can do it with one.

Read the entire, lengthy interview for Singleton’s thoughts on future layoffs at the Post (none planned, doesn’t mean it won’t happen), whether Ritter is a strong leader (mixed bag) and whether he reads news online (not much). Special bonus: a lovely drawing of the media boss by state GOP aide Matt Milner.

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