Campus & Community

Media mogul Singleton gives departing grad students realistic advice about the future

“You bet on yourselves," Dean Singleton said, "my generation is betting on you.” Photo: Ce Shi

William Dean Singleton, founder of one of the largest news organizations in America, had some good news for departing graduate students: They will have work in the years ahead.

The bad news? That work includes cleaning up what Singleton said was the mess his generation has made of things.

“You’re all guaranteed at least one job: cleaning up my generation’s mess,” said Singleton, the featured speaker at the graduate Commencement ceremony June 8. “We screwed it up big time, and I apologize on behalf of my generation.”

More than 800 graduates at DU’s Magness Arena, and thousands of their friends and family members, heard Singleton deliver a frank address that accepted blame for an economic system that leaves thousands of students with educational loans to pay off and a tax structure that doesn’t work.

“What sucks is the unholy mess my generation is presenting to you today,” he said.


Singleton, chair and founder of the MediaNews Group chain, started working in news at 15 and bought his first newspaper at 21. The company he started now owns scores of newspapers and websites across the country, including the Denver Post and newspapers in Salt Lake City and Detroit and throughout California.

He lauded graduates for already showing themselves to be selfless and for their hard work. As they turn now to careers, he urged them to stay in touch with the news. An independent news media remains a valuable part of the future, he said. For those graduating, the news remains a source for them to seek out information and opinions that may not fit their view of the world but can force them to think differently and to take in other points of view.

“Find sources that challenge your opinions,” he said.

Singleton chastised politicians on both sides of the aisle who focus more on ideology than ideas and solutions, and he said the art of civil discourse is withering.

Singleton challenged each graduate to bet on the concept of “one idea, one person.” One person with an idea can make a difference, he said, pointing to the work of DU Chancellor Emeritus Daniel Ritchie and how his commitment to the University helped it rally from difficult times to become what Singleton called “one of the finest universities in the world.”

Chancellor Robert Coombe awarded Singleton an honorary doctorate of humane letters and congratulated him for his achievements.

“Mr. Singleton is someone who is invited into our homes every morning,” Coombe said. “He plays an enormous role in illuminating and shaping the ideas of our time.”

Singleton told graduates the news isn’t all bad.

“We will somehow muddle through to a brighter day. We are, after all, a hopeful species,” he said. “You bet on yourselves; my generation is betting on you.”



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