Inside Alden Global Capital – the Hedge Fund that Just Bought SD Union-Tribune Is Gutting Newsrooms Around the Country

by on July 17, 2023 · 5 comments

in Media, San Diego

Here is a October 2021 article from Atlantic magazine about Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that just bought the SD Union-Tribune (and the LA Times).

A Secretive Hedge Fund Is Gutting Newsrooms — Inside Alden Global Capital

By McKay Coppins / The Atlantic / Oct. 14, 2021

THE TRIBUNE TOWER rises above the streets of downtown Chicago in a majestic snarl of Gothic spires and flying buttresses that were designed to exude power and prestige. When plans for the building were announced in 1922, Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime owner of the Chicago Tribune, said he wanted to erect “the world’s most beautiful office building” for his beloved newspaper.

The best architects of the era were invited to submit designs; lofty quotes about the Fourth Estate were selected to adorn the lobby. Prior to the building’s completion, McCormick directed his foreign correspondents to collect “fragments” of various historical sites—a brick from the Great Wall of China, an emblem from St. Peter’s Basilica—and send them back to be embedded in the tower’s facade.

The final product, completed in 1925, was an architectural spectacle unlike anything the city had seen before—“romance in stone and steel,” as one writer described it. A century later, the Tribune Tower has retained its grandeur. It has not, however, retained the Chicago Tribune.

To find the paper’s current headquarters one afternoon in late June, I took a cab across town to an industrial block west of the river. After a long walk down a windowless hallway lined with cinder-block walls, I got in an elevator, which deposited me near a modest bank of desks near the printing press. The scene was somehow even grimmer than I’d imagined.

Here was one of America’s most storied newspapers—a publication that had endorsed Abraham Lincoln and scooped the Treaty of Versailles, that had toppled political bosses and tangled with crooked mayors and collected dozens of Pulitzer Prizes—reduced to a newsroom the size of a Chipotle.

Spend some time around the shell-shocked journalists at the Tribune these days, and you’ll hear the same question over and over: How did it come to this? On the surface, the answer might seem obvious. Craigslist killed the Classified section, Google and Facebook swallowed up the ad market, and a procession of hapless newspaper owners failed to adapt to the digital-media age, making obsolescence inevitable. This is the story we’ve been telling for decades about the dying local-news industry, and it’s not without truth. But what’s happening in Chicago is different.

In May, the Tribune was acquired by Alden Global Capital, a secretive hedge fund that has quickly, and with remarkable ease, become one of the largest newspaper operators in the country. The new owners did not fly to Chicago to address the staff, nor did they bother with paeans to the vital civic role of journalism. Instead, they gutted the place.

Two days after the deal was finalized, Alden announced an aggressive round of buyouts. In the ensuing exodus, the paper lost the Metro columnist who had championed the occupants of a troubled public- housing complex, and the editor who maintained a homicide database that the police couldn’t manipulate, and the photographer who had produced beautiful portraits of the state’s undocumented immigrants, and the investigative reporter who’d helped expose the governor’s offshore shell companies. When it was over, a quarter of the newsroom.

The hollowing-out of the Chicago Tribune was noted in the national press, of course. There were sober op-eds and lamentations on Twitter and expressions of disappointment by professors of journalism. But outside the industry, few seemed to notice. Meanwhile, the Tribune’s remaining staff, which had been spread thin even before Alden came along, struggled to perform the newspaper’s most basic functions. After a powerful Illinois state legislator resigned amid bribery allegations, the
paper didn’t have a reporter in Springfield to follow the resulting scandal.

For the balance of this article, please go here.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mateo July 17, 2023 at 12:12 pm

Every SD Union-Tribune owner since the Copley’s have driven the paper into the ground. Before the sale the Union had a circulation just barely North of 50K in a county with 3.4 million residents?
That San Diego Union Tribune newsroom was gutted long ago, and the Union/Trib abdicated all responsibility to report the truth. Corporate instead buried stories, suppressed investigations, and the most blind eyes in this City’s corrupted history were turned to the problems that have now reached catastrophic levels. The damage can be seen everywhere you look in this City. Investigative journalism critical for a well informed public was already all but eliminated by the Corporate Offices of every takeover since the Copleys.


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman July 18, 2023 at 2:23 pm

There is a skeleton crew of excellent investigative reporters performing admirably at the present Union-Tribune, led by Jeff McDonald, working under editor Jeff Light who manages the magic act of getting every important national story into that understaffed daily newspaper. Light’s management of the U-T contrasts favorably compared to management of the Los Angeles Times under the same owner who now has sold off the U-T. The Copleys were rich and Republican, and they ran their paper to benefit the GOP which once was dominant in California politics, but no more.


Debbie July 20, 2023 at 8:42 am
sealintheSelkirks July 20, 2023 at 3:02 pm

It is absolutely boggling just how much damage has been/is being inflicted by Wall St. on the population of this country. Hedge Funds, Investment Houses, billionaires buying judges and politicians and funding ‘think tanks’ and extreme political movements like when the KOCH brothers invented the ‘Tea Party’ in the 90s… And the dark money billionaires funding current groups like the Racist/proto-Fascist Moms for Liberty censorship extremists.

If one digs deeply enough, just about everything bad can be laid at the 1% doorsteps. This isn’t a Republic nor a democracy, it’s an Oligarchy by the most disgusting humans in the country. Like ACAB, there’s also ABAB…



Frank Gormlie July 20, 2023 at 3:26 pm

Jeff Light, the editor and publisher of The San Diego Union-Tribune is leaving the paper after 13 years, he announced Thursday.


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