Check out photos of NewsGuild-CWA members fighting to Save Local News on World Press Freedom Day, May 3.
May 7, 2019 – NewsGuild members at DFM and Gannett newspapers marked the day with rallies in Denver and Detroit and lit up the Twittersphere using the hashtag #SaveLocalNews.
Activities were designed to call attention to the threat Alden Global Capital poses to local and regional news in communities across the U.S. The New York-based hedge fund is mounting a hostile takeover bid of Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain and owner of the second largest chain in the United Kingdom.
Alden, reviled as a “destroyer of newspapers,” owns Digital First Media, the second largest U.S. chain by circulation. Alden is backing a slate of three “hopelessly conflicted” candidates running for Gannett’s board at the company’s May 16 shareholder meeting.
“On World Press Freedom Day, we highlight the crucial role that newspapers play in our democracy, in cities large and small across the country,” said NewsGuild President Bernie Lunzer. “Our campaign has placed a spotlight on the devastating effect that hedge funds in general – and Alden in particular – have had on local and regional news coverage. Gannett shareholders should reject Alden’s attempt to profit from its destructive, asset-stripping strategy at the expense of Gannett’s newspapers and the long-term future of the company.”
Hedge fund ownership of Digital First Media newspapers has resulted in staff cuts at more than twice the national rate. Alden’s cost-cutting has helped spark a new, albeit grim, vocabulary in the newspaper industry: “news deserts” and “ghost newspapers.”
The Washington Post recently reported that Alden is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor for investing more than $250 million of employee pension money into its own accounts.
“Journalists at DFM newspapers continue to do outstanding work, but Alden’s brutal cost-cutting diminishes the scope of coverage and causes incalculable harm to communities,” Lunzer said. “The work done by our members is vitally important for our democracy, and we continue to call for new, responsible owners who will invest in the work our members do each day at DFM.”