William Dean Singleton, the majordomo of The Houston Post when he sold its assets in 1995, has decided to duck into bankruptcy court as his MediaNews company has succumbed to the pervasive ills currently afflicting the daily newspaper business.
While this in itself is not a surprising turn of events, what comes as a bit of a surprise is that the Hearst Corp. will lose $317 million because of the Singleton bankruptcy.
Hearst, of course, is the owner of Houston's only daily newspaper, the Chronicle.
The confounding question that arises out of this is: what was Hearst thinking when it got into bed with Singleton?
As Alan J. Mutter, the esteemed observor of the cratering newspaper biz observed in his blog, "...Hearst became not just the biggest loser among the equity investors in MediaNews. It will be the only one.
"Neither MediaNews chief Dean Singleton nor his long-time business partner Richard B. Scudder will lose a nickel in the bankruptcy, because neither ever put any of his own money into the company, said a MediaNews spokesman. But they aren't unscathed. Each of the MediaNews founders will suffer the complete loss of paper gains that at one point theoretically were worth as much as $500 million per man."
What does this mean for the Houston Chronicle?
We can't say for certain, but we can guess -- more belt-tightening.