President Trump’s declaration of the media as the enemy of the people and his continuous degradation of the press scare the heck out of me. But I’m worried, too, about the enemies of a free press that come from within.
Heading the list: Alden Global Capital.
Alden is the hedge fund owner of about 200 newspapers, including The Saratogian, whose newsroom I led for more than 30 years until the owners’ massive cuts made the job untenable.
They’ve been in the news for making obscene profits from their newspapers while slashing staff and funneling the money instead into their pockets and questionable investments, for prompting resignations, for firing an editor in Colorado who published a criticism of the company, and for banning its newsrooms from publishing criticism of itself without prior approval, which you wouldn’t hold your breath for.
I get why an employer wouldn’t tolerate employees badmouthing the hand that feeds them. If you’re unhappy, leave. At the same time, the story about how Alden is undoing local journalism around the country needs to be told. Those of us whose jobs are no longer at stake need to speak up.
The latest resignations, on top of huge layoffs, were from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Denver Post, Alden’s cash cow. Among them was Dean Singleton, the Post’s prior owner who until this week had been its chairman. “At the end of my career, I don’t want to be a part of it,” Singleton told media writer Ken Doctor. “The Post has been totally gutted of news coverage and of editorial coverage. That’s a fact.”
I don’t want people to give up on local news or their local newspaper. I want Alden to sell its newspapers to investors who care about news.