News

Alden’s approach to newspapers is to dramatically expand profit margins through cost-cutting, combining services, outsourcing and selling off real estate. Its newspaper company, closely held MediaNews Group, which publishes some 70 daily papers including the Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News, had a profit margin of 17% in 2017, according to a person familiar with the matter. By contrast, the New York Times Co. ’s margin was under 1% that year, while Gannett Co. came in at 1.7%, according to public filings. Alden has declined to disclose more-recent numbers. Between 2012 and January of this year, MediaNews Group cut staff by 76% at its 11 unionized papers, including the Denver Post, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the San Jose Mercury News, according to the News Guild, a union that represents newspaper employees. At the Norristown Times-Herald in Pennsylvania, staff was reduced to just five from 45.
Last year, as a group of Baltimore Sun reporters embarked on a long-shot endeavor to find a new owner that could save their paper from a hedge-fund takeover, a former Maryland politician gave them a piece of advice. Treat this like a political campaign.
The Orlando Sentinel on Friday published an editorial beseeching white knight investors to rescue the newspaper from a hostile takeover that Alden Global Capital has been pursuing for the paper’s parent company Tribune Publishing. In the unusual public call for support, Sentinel editors express contempt for Alden, their potential corporate owner, and characterize the moment as existential for the newspaper’s future.
Stories are back on the cover of Kansas City’s Northeast News this week after the newspaper intentionally printed a blank front page of its previous edition to show community members what they’d miss if the newspaper folded.

The front page of Kansas City’s Northeast News was left blank earlier this week in an effort to show readers what it would be like if the publication ceased to exist — and, as it turns out, the strategy proved quite effective.

On Wednesday, the editors of the paper that serves Northeast Kansas City made a bold decision to get readers’ attention in an effort to garner more support.

A committee of the Connecticut state legislature heard compelling testimony March 18 about the value of The Hartford Courant to the local community and the threat that Alden Global Capital poses to it. “The hedge funds and private equity [newspaper] owners lack an appreciation for journalism’s traditional civic mission,” testified Penny Abernathy, a professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. “They view their newspapers as investments to be bought, sold, traded or shuttered.”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chair of the subcommittee, introduced legislation Wednesday that would allow news publishers and broadcasters to bargain as a group with Google and Facebook for linking to their content. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, or JPCA, also would give a four-year exemption from antitrust rules so news organizations large and small can work together. Schleuss said he supports the new bill but would like to see more news worker job protections. “Google and Facebook benefit from the stories produced by journalists and they use the traffic they get to sell ads, capturing a majority of the digital ad revenue,” Schleuss said. “The companies should pay their fair share when benefiting from the sharing of news content.”
NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss told a House subcommittee on Friday that local news is facing “an extinction-level” threat that jeopardizes American democracy. Read his oral testimony.