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Denver Post Workers to Owner: Invest in News or Sell

Newsroom staff members were relocated from downtown offices near the State Capitol to the paper's printing plant earlier this year to cut costs. (Galatas)
Newsroom staff members were relocated from downtown offices near the State Capitol to the paper's printing plant earlier this year to cut costs. (Galatas)
May 7, 2018

DENVER – Unrest between Denver Post workers and hedge fund owner Alden Global Capital is on the rise after editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett resigned late last week.

Workers at The Denver Post and other newspapers across the nation are set to protest Tuesday what they say are predatory management practices in Denver and at Alden's headquarters in Manhattan.

Post reporter Kieran Nicholson is the newsroom unit chair for the Denver Newspaper Guild. He says even though the Post made $28 million in profits last year, the company continues to cut staff and costs in ways that are unsustainable.

"They are busy stuffing their pockets as they wring this out,” he states. “And if it's to the community's detriment, if it's to the Post employees' detriment, they don't care. They just want to keep on racking in the profits, and we have to reverse that trend or stop that trend somehow."

Workers and supporters are calling for Alden to invest in the Post or sell it to someone who will.

A recent Neiman Lab report found that Alden's Colorado properties produced a 19 percent profit margin, and the company's strategy of continued cuts has produced the highest returns in the industry.

Attempts to contact Alden Global Capital or its subsidiary Digital First Media for a response so far have been unsuccessful.

After the most recent layoff announcement, the Post's newsroom is set to drop to just 70 from a staff well above 200, and other departments also have seen dramatic cuts.

Nicholson argues that ending Alden's shortsighted business model is the only way for the Post to continue its mission, for more than a century, of serving as a watchdog and trusted information source for Denver and Colorado.

"We feel that we help people make important decisions,” he states. “If it were to vanish or disappear, I think it would be detrimental to the community as a whole. Who's going to watch the powerful and hold them accountable?"

Newspaper workers plan to deliver a petition with more than 1,000 signatures to Alden president Heath Freeman.

Nicholson says the petition is a public cry asking the hedge fund to sell to local owners, or at least to an owner who is willing to reinvest earnings into journalism.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO