Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - April 20, 2018 


The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

Daily Newscasts

Groups Hope to Reclaim Newspapers from Hedge Funds

Annual profits ranging from 20 percent to 24 percent have not stopped Alden Global Capital from extracting hundreds of millions of dollars from its media holdings, including the Denver Post. (David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons)
Annual profits ranging from 20 percent to 24 percent have not stopped Alden Global Capital from extracting hundreds of millions of dollars from its media holdings, including the Denver Post. (David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons)
April 17, 2018

DENVER – As a group of Colorado investors works to corral enough cash to make a bid to buy the Denver Post from its current owner, fund Alden Global Capital, other communities are looking to follow suit.

Julie Reynolds, an investigative journalist who's spent years covering the New York-based hedge fund's media holdings, has been getting calls from groups across the U.S. hoping to save their local papers. She says since Alden began extracting resources from news outlets, cities and entire regions are no longer being covered.

"We're talking about people's right to information about their communities, which means we're talking about the cornerstone of our democracy," she says. "So we're looking at places that you'd never know what their city hall is doing anymore because of this drastic downsizing by Alden."

Despite annual profits ranging from 20 to 24 percent, cuts by Alden have left fewer than 70 journalists at the Post to cover a metro area of nearly three million people. Reynolds says grocery stores typically see profits of 10 percent.

After the paper's editorial team sounded the alarm publicly, a Colorado-Springs based group launched an exploratory committee to find local ownership. Managers at Alden have said the cuts are due to a loss of advertising income. Alden did not respond to a request for comment.

Reynolds notes that since acquiring the Post, Alden has treated the paper more like a personal ATM than a public trust. A recent lawsuit revealed Alden took more than $240 million in cash from its media holdings, borrowed $248 million from newspaper workers' pension funds, and forced newspapers to take on $200 million in debt to finance other investments.

Reynolds says the Wall Street term "vulture capitalism" hardly applies to Alden.

"They're deliberately killing it; they're really more like wolves because they're looking for weakness," she warns. "And while newspapers were struggling with reinventing themselves and trying to find new economic models, they were able to move in, buy them cheaply and then systematically destroy them."

Reynolds points to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune as proof that regional papers can still work in the age of online news and social media. After a local owner interested in supporting journalism stepped in, she says the paper is still profitable, and more than 240 people still have jobs in the newsroom.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO