Readers of the Chicago Tribune may know the paper’s new owner is Alden Global Capital – a hedge fund that completed a $633 million takeover back in May.
With that followed a massive round of buyouts from some of the paper’s most well-known journalists.
Alden Global Capital has a reputation for gutting newspapers to generate short-term profits for shareholders.
McKay Coppins, a staff writer at The Atlantic, dove deep into the history of Alden and what its ownership could spell for the future of the Tribune in “A Secretive Hedge Fund That Is Gutting Newsrooms” that appears in its latest issue.
“They focus on distressed businesses and either drive them into bankruptcy or find ways to maximize profits through cost cutting,” Coppins said.
For the fate of the Chicago Tribune, Coppins said “there’s not a lot to be excited about.” He points to an analysis that newspapers owned by Alden cut their staff twice the rate of the rest of the industry.
This takedown of newsrooms shouldn’t be a story that just matters to journalists, he said. Research has shown that when a local newspaper vanishes or significantly diminishes, there’s lower voter turnout, increased polarization, and a general erosion of civic engagement, he added.
We reached out to the Chicago Tribune and Alden Global Capital for comment but neither have responded to WTTW News’ request.