Apr 16, 2019 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Don’t let Alden Global Capital (AKA MNG) kill Gannett newspapers

If you own Gannett Co. Inc. stock, I beseech you to vote for the company’s recommended board of directors – NOT for the board proposed by MNG, which wants to take over Gannett and squeeze it to death.

I know what I’m talking about.

MNG, under various names, is a vulture hedge fund that buys distressed properties like newspapers and squeezes the life out of them.

“MNG’s comfort zone is running newspapers,” lies the company in its letter with the heading “Save Gannett” mailed to Gannett shareholders.

The truth is MNG could not care less about local news. They see Gannett, they smell blood.

Funny, during my years at The Saratogian under Gannett ownership, salaries were too low and staffing inadequate. As the top editor, I had to justify buying a box of paper clips and hire reporters at barely over minimum wage. Gannett’s local newspapers suffered as the expense of satisfying shareholders.

I didn’t know how good we had it.

Gannett, at least at the time I was at The Saratogian, encouraged its newsrooms to produce meaningful stories, provide community leadership, and reflect the diversity of its population. The trade-off for perpetual entry-level pay was breaking into the field and having fun doing it. I took pride in grooming countless young journalists, many of whom are still writing, editing and even running newsrooms.

Times changed. Gannett sold off some of its properties, including the profitable Saratogian.

The Saratogian’s new owners briefly had a small news-oriented corporate-level component that encouraged significant local coverage. But that was soon cut, along with salaries and jobs. By the time I left the paper in 2015, the owners’ dropped any pretense about caring about the product, the staff, or the community they serve. I give credit to remaining handful of Saratogian staffers diligently plugging along.  

MNG boasts in its letter to Gannett shareholders that among its dozens of publications is The Denver Post. Shame on MNG for bragging about the papers it is decimating. Sure, all is not hunky-dory under Gannett as news companies strive to stay profitable and make shareholders happy in the digital age. But Gannett is a zillion times better as a news company than MNG and its hedge fund, Alden Global Capital.  

The Gannett annual meeting on May 16. If you own a share of its stock, please vote to keep its directors intact and keep MNG at bay.  

Got anything to say? Go ahead and leave a comment!