Two investigative reporters at the Chicago Tribune recently submitted an op-ed to the New York Times, expressing concerns about the Tribune's future. David Jackson and Gary Marx also sounded the alarm on the "Chicago Tonight" program on the city’s public TV station, WTTW.
Alden Global Capital is now the Tribune’s largest shareholder. Alden is a hedge fund with a track record of cutting newsroom staff. And Tribune Publishing last month offered buyouts to employees who’ve worked at the company for at least eight years.
In their op-ed, Jackson and Marx wrote:
“Alden’s strategy of acquiring struggling local newsrooms and stripping them of assets has built the personal wealth of the hedge fund’s investors. But Alden has imposed draconian staff cuts that decimated The Denver Post and other once-proud newspapers that have been vital to their communities and to American democracy. Those newsrooms, which put a spotlight on local political corruption, have served as forums for community voices and have driven the coverage of regional television, radio and online outlets.”
The Shop Talk panelists share the concerns expressed by Jackson and Marx. The panelists said hedge funds are raiding newspapers for their profits instead of reinvesting in journalism. They said similar scenarios are playing out in communities across the nation and that the public should be alarmed.
Shop Talk is a weekly panel discussion about journalism issues. This week’s program featured Will Buss, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University and advises the student editors at the Western Courier, the students at student radio station The Dog, and the WIU chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists; Rajvee Subramanian, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University; and TSPR News Director Rich Egger.