Dec. 20, 2019 – The NewsGuild-CWA is demanding answers from two members of the Board of Directors of Tribune Publishing – directors who were appointed on the recommendation of Alden Global Capital, a New York hedge fund known as “the destroyer of newspapers.”
In a Dec. 20 letter to Tribune Board Chairman David Dreier, NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss said there are significant questions about whether the appointees can competently represent all Tribune Publishing shareholders as well as other stakeholders, such as employees and customers.
Alden recently became the largest shareholder of Tribune stock. Through the MediaNews Group, also known as Digital First Media, Alden has played “a particularly destructive role in local journalism,” Schleuss wrote. “It has slashed staff and sold real estate to extract cash from its newspapers, without regard to the vital role those newspapers play in the communities they serve.
“MNG invested these extracted sums in unrelated businesses outside the company,” he said. “In the process, Alden has depleted newsrooms, eliminated beats, and made it virtually impossible for its newspapers to fully tell the stories of their communities.”
Alden has taken unorthodox actions at MediaNews Group, including investments of pension funds that triggered an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The letter asks the board to pose questions to Alden-backed directors Christopher Minnetian and Dana Goldsmith Needleman regarding the pension investments, real estate sales and more.
In the interest of transparency, Schleuss asked the board to make the responses public.
“Under Alden’s ownership, MediaNews Group, has, in effect, converted into a hedge fund, investing its balance-sheet capital in unrelated companies and assets,” he wrote.
The Morning Call Guild, based in Allentown, Penn., tweeted, “We are fighting to make sure that doesn’t happen to Tribune Publishing.”