SPJVA condemns hedge fund’s bid to buy Lee Enterprises

Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that has made its name gutting newsrooms in Virginia and across the country, announced on Monday its intent to acquire newspaper firm Lee Enterprises, which owns publications in Virginia.

This takeover would consolidate the ownership of some of Virginia’s largest legacy newspapers — including Richmond Times-Dispatch, Roanoke Times and Daily Progress — into one company. Alden previously acquired Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press when it purchased Tribune Publishing Co. earlier this year. Currently, only seven daily newspapers that have a presence in the state are not owned by Lee or Alden.

The past tends to be prologue when it comes to Alden: Its takeover of Tribune led to the closure of Richmond’s Style Weekly and the elimination of more than 250 editorial positions at Tribune papers, as Alden saddled its new subsidiary with nearly $300 million in debt. The hedge fund has used a similar modus operandi in other buyouts.

Alden has repeatedly demonstrated that it has no greater priority than its profit margins — even as it plays a part in decimating Virginia’s media landscape, depriving many of the timely and reliable information that underpins a functioning democracy and society.

Furthermore, a single firm owning nearly all outlets that focus on in-state coverage could raise serious concerns among readers about accountability, while undermining the hard work of some of Virginia’s most trusted journalists.

We strongly condemn the proposed buyout, recognizing it would come at a detriment to journalists and readers in Virginia, and once again urge members of the public to support local journalism and a diversity of news voices.

Published by SPJ Virginia Pro

SPJ is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry through the daily work of its nearly 10,000 members; works to inspire and educate current and future journalists through professional development; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press through its advocacy efforts.

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