Alden has been seizing the assets of Digital First Media newspapers: selling real estate, slashing newsroom staff, and outsourcing work to drive up profits for privileged investors. Alden’s actions are affecting local and community coverage and diversity in newsrooms and on the newspapers’ editorial pages.
Alden Global Capital is known as a vulture fund, and is secretive even by hedge fund standards, with money stashed in notorious tax havens around the world. Its actions are not only hurting newspaper employees but are limiting coverage of community issues and harming long-established editorial voices. Alden’s founder, Randall Smith, is a major donor to right-wing candidates and to the Republican Party.
Hundreds of prominent journalists, newspaper workers, and advocates for quality journalism are petitioning Alden, demanding full transparency about the hedge fund’s investments and investors, as well as its political donations.
“Alden is one of the largest newspaper owners in the United States, yet it operates as a dark web of complex business structures to hide itself from public view,” said Bernie Lunzer, president of The NewsGuild-CWA. “Alden is laying off the very journalists who’d be reporting this kind of vital information to the public. We believe the public has a right to demand complete transparency about Alden.”
The campaign is using the hashtag #NewsMatters to spotlight the vital role that journalism plays in our democracy and to build more public support. The campaign also is using the hashtag #AldenExposed as part of its demand for investor transparency.
“Alden can’t and shouldn’t operate in the shadows while it’s strip mining its newspapers,” said Sara Steffens, secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America, and a former DFM employee who was laid off from her reporting position at the Contra Costa Times. “Alden should invest in these highly profitable papers so that they can properly serve their communities.”
The NewsGuild-CWA represents 870 workers at 12 DFM newspaper bargaining units nationwide, 11 of which have expired contracts. Many workers haven’t had a raise for seven to 10 years.
The newspapers include the Denver Post, Mercury News, East Bay Times, Monterey Herald, St. Paul Pioneer Press, The Macomb Daily and the Daily Tribune, Kingston Freeman, Pottstown Mercury, The Delaware County Times, The Trentonian, and the Norristown Times-Herald.