The hedge fund Alden Global Capital agreed on Tuesday to acquire the rest of Tribune Publishing, which includes newspapers like the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, and the Hartford Courant. Alden is known for buying distressed assets like newspapers and making painful cuts to them. The basic playbook: Sell off any assets like real estate, raise subscription prices, then manage to an expected decline in revenue by taking a meat ax to staff and resources.
One bright spot in the grim news is the Baltimore Sun, which will be owned by a nonprofit instead. Associated Baltimore Sun Media titles, including Annapolis’ Capital Gazette, will also be owned by the Sunlight for All Institute, a nonprofit established by Stewart Bainum, the chairman of Choice Hotels, who lives in Takoma Park.
Other newspapers in the mid-Atlantic will not be as lucky. The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, the Daily Press in Newport News, and the Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania, will all fall under Alden’s management if the deal goes through, as many experts expect it will.
As Poynter Institute media business analyst Rick Edmonds has written, Alden doesn’t interfere with its properties as part of any ideological conviction–it’s content to merely squeeze them dry. There’s “a flavor of living on borrowed time in Alden newsrooms, even as editors and reporters are free to pursue stories they think most important to their communities,” Edmonds wrote last year.