U.S. Rep. Susan Wild
By Julia Reynolds
“Local journalism is at the very core of our democracy, and I’m extremely saddened that a national hedge fund company, with no ties to our community, has chosen a path of profiteering at the expense of Morning Call journalists who cover local beats that national outlets can’t or won’t cover and who provide a critical public service of transparency and accountability,” Wild said in the statement.
Wild was referring to Alden Global Capital, the New York hedge fund that owns the MNG newspaper chain and is angling to take over Tribune Publishing, the Morning Call’s parent company.
“In times of crisis – like we’ve faced over the past several months – reporting the facts and making sure everyone has up to date district-specific information and resources is some of the most important work that can be done,” Wild said. “I stand beside Morning Call staff in their continued efforts to report the news.”
Casey issued a similar statement last week, saying hedge fund owners “have no place” in local newsrooms.
Morning Call employees were stunned to learn last month that the paper’s parent company, Tribune Publishing, was permanently shuttering the historic offices the paper had occupied for 100 years. For most of this year, reporters and other news workers have been working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a move many observers attribute to Alden’s cost-slashing influence, Tribune abruptly shut down offices at five of its papers, including the Morning Call.
The joint statement from Casey and Wild is part of a growing chorus of proclamations from cities, counties and states decrying Alden for its extreme gutting of newsroom budgets while raking in profit margins far above industry norms.
Earlier this month the Hartford, Connecticut, City Council issued a proclamation in support of the Tribune-owned Hartford Courant.
In December, the Denver City Council issued a proclamation authored by City Councilman Kevin Flynn calling on Alden to cease the pillaging of its newspapers and to sell to responsible local owners if it refused to reinvest in its newsrooms. Chicago Alderman Matt O’Shea introduced a similar resolution in February that also called on Alden to appear before a City Council committee.
“The Morning Call is not only a source of high-quality, local news for the Lehigh Valley, but a pillar of the community,” Casey said in the statement. “Vacating the downtown office building after 100 years represents a great loss for Allentown and for the Morning Call staff, who are steadfast in their commitment to the important work of keeping the community informed. I will continue to stand with the Morning Call Guild in their fight to preserve local journalism in the Lehigh Valley.”
The Morning Call Guild has launched an online campaign in supports of the paper’s workers called Save Our Morning Call.
Featured photo: Rep. Susan Wild | wild.house.gov