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The Rocky Mountain News' John Temple on the alleged closure meeting

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The current Westword includes a feature article about the Rocky Mountain News, which was recently put up for sale, as well as a sidebar about the marquee Rocky talent most likely to leap to the Denver Post in the event of a closure and a look into the mysteries of the joint-operating agreement that connects the Rocky and the Post. To supplement that coverage, we're offering a series of outtakes and supplementary material that's just as interesting as the stuff that made the final cut.

First up -- comments from John Temple (pictured), the Rocky's editor, publisher and president, about a key November 19 get-together between executives of E.W. Scripps, the tabloid's Cincinnati-based parent company, and MediaNews Group, a Denver newspaper chain -- overseen by Dean Singleton -- that owns the Denver Post. Since the Rocky and the Post are linked in a joint-operating agreement that went into effect in 2001, they must consult about any major changes in the partnership -- and following the December 4 sale announcement, Singleton issued a memo in which he said Scripps representatives had told him at the aforementioned meeting that they planned to shutter the Rocky "as soon as practical." This assertion is disputed by Scripps CEO Rich Boehne and his colleagues.

Temple wasn't at that session, but he has strong opinions about the disconnect between Singleton's version of events and the tale told by Boehne.

"Scripps and MediaNews talk all the time," Temple says. "So for Dean to bring up a single meeting... It was an important meeting, but still a single meeting, and he's very selective in terms of what he wants to communicate. And I don't think it contributes to journalistic understanding. If you ask yourself, 'What are the standards of journalism?,' at any meeting, the memory of a single source will be, by definition, self-serving.

"I am familiar with the conversations that occurred," he continues, "and just because he thinks that's what the conversation was doesn't mean Scripps shares that same interpretation... I use the analogy of a husband and wife. Spouses can often have a conversation and have a very different understanding of what was communicated in that conversation."

As for whether Singleton should have sent the memo in the first place, "Dean and I may disagree about this, but I don't think that was a constructive revelation to give his interpretation of a single meeting between the ownership. That's certainly his interpretation, but I do not believe Scripps feels that way, nor do I believe that's true. I think if you knew the people at Scripps, you would know that is not how they operate, and that's not how this is." -- Michael Roberts

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