Post Journalists: “Hey Hey. Ho Ho. Alden Global Has Got to Go”

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A flock of journalists, from an array of media outlets, covered a rally of about 100 people at The Denver Post headquarters today, pointing cameras at marching and chanting Post reporters, who called on the newspaper’s hedge-fund owner, Alden Global, to find a buyer who cares about journalism and the community.

One of the journalists covering the rally didn’t want to be interviewed about it, saying he needed permission from his bosses before commenting to the press.

But another,  KOA 850-AM’s Jerry Bell, quickly offered his take.

“It’s horrible,” Bell said when asked how it felt to cover the rally. “A lot of those people are my friends. I’ve worked side-by-side with them for years. It’s heartbreaking.”

Despite somewhat strong chants of, “What do we want? A new owner. When do we want it? Now,” an undercurrent of horribleness and heartbreakingness, not to mention vulnerability and sadness, indeed pervaded the rally today at the industrial-scale Post headquarters.

That’s because no one at the rally, or chit chatting on the side or anywhere on the internet, explained how The Post’s predicament, with a hedge-fund owner that’s chopping away at the newsroom, ends well.

No path toward a solution is on the table, but, still, the goal was clear, as expressed in a chant that went, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Alden Global has got to go.”

A dubious group of potential buyers, who rode a media wave after the Post’s former Editorial Page Editor Chuck Plunkett penned an editorial critical of Alden last month, has disappeared, at least for now. Plunkett himself resigned, after a follow-up editorial was rejected by Alden executives.

Plunkett spoke at the rally, expressing the painfully obvious truth that the journalists in front of him were uncomfortably protesting and marching.

But Plunkett also told the crowd and the reporters present, “Local journalism is way too important to be neglected, as it has been over the past few years. Local journalism is way too important to be censored, as we are starting to see now. We really need Alden Global to come around and start reinvesting in its newsrooms and start looking for a way to preserve journalism across all its holdings, particularly at the Denver Post. Or they need to sell to more responsible owners. That’s the message these people are trying to get out. And these people have been working hard, under impossible conditions, for way too long. And it’s time for the people of Colorado to stand up and help these folks, if they care about local journalism, and they should.”

Plunkett is soft-spoken and precise with his words, which makes him a somewhat unlikely character to become the poster child for saving journalism in Denver, but most journalists would be similarly ill-suited for the role. That’s their nature, as Plunkett himself expressed.

Yet, as the signs carried by The Post journalists read, “Democracy Depends on Journalism.”

So there’s hope. There’s still a lot of great journalists in Denver, outside The Post.

And the Post’s cause is so noble that big civic-minded money may well flow its way. That’s what I’m waiting for, at least.

5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Alden's supposed asking price is way out of whack with reality. Even if civic-minded funding comes out, Alden would rather milk the Post dry…

    • JohnInDenver says:

      If Alden is getting $28 million (or 19% — another figure I've read) in profits from the Denver Post, as Westword says, what would be a "reality" based price?

      • Davie says:

        The Ken Doctor article linked in the Colorado Independent said that Alden is asking 4 times EBIT (earnings before interest and tax — I think they used $36 million — or $144 million).  The other numbers mentioned were $100 — $125 million.

        The CSprings group Jason is referring to only got $10 million in pledges.

  2. JohnInDenver says:

    I'm uncertain about the utility of a protest — that said, if there was an announcement I saw more than a day or two ahead of time, on Tuesday at noon, I would make an effort to be there.

    Having grown up reading the Sunday Denver Post from a contiguous state (about 12 years), and being a subscriber for the entirety of my living here at two different times (now over 25 years, when combined), unless there is a clear announcement of an acceptable future for the Post by the time this month's subscription is up, it will be my last while the current ownership is in place.  I will contact the stores I use and explain why I think they should pull advertising. I will contact Denver7 and urge them to end the "partnership." If you have other suggestions of action relevant to my life, I will probably go for them, too.

    • ajb says:

      I agree. My wife and I have been talking about canceling our subscription, and plan to this month. It appears that Alden is just going to run the place into the ground, leaving the husk of a once-thriving paper. They'll keep borrowing against income until they max that out, then declare bankruptcy. The sooner we reach that point, the sooner we get a new paper. 

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