By Julie Reynolds

Three Pennsylvania elected officials are making the case for saving the Allentown Morning Call newspaper’s downtown offices.

In a two-page letter sent to Tribune Publishing’s president and CEO Terry Jimenez, state Sen. Patrick Browne, state Rep. Peter Schweyer and state Rep. Michael Schlossberg argued that “the recent decision by the Tribune Publishing Company to close its doors in Downtown Allentown and reconsider where (if anywhere) you will operate from locally is such a blow.”

Tribune announced the Morning Call offices will be permanently shuttered, along with those of four of its other newspapers, after the notorious cost-slashing hedge fund Alden Global Capital began to exert control over Tribune’s board.

“Having an office in the city has created a lasting connection between your staff and your

readers and is a highly visible sign of your commitment to Allentown,” the three officials wrote in their Sept. 17 letter to Jimenez. “This has in turn fostered a deep loyalty for The Morning Call as we all believe there is a commitment to report on important local news.”

The letter is the latest development in a growing movement by elected officials to protect local newsrooms as Alden prepares to take greater control of Tribune.

Internal company documents obtained by recently revealed that Alden, which owns a third of the news chain, plans to acquire greater ownership as early as January, even though Alden signed an agreement not to buy more Tribune shares before July.

While the Pennsylvania officials’ letter did not mention Alden, they are joining a growing number of voices protesting Alden’s impact on local news.

In the past year, resolutions and letters expressing concerns over Alden’s tactics or urging greater investment in local newsrooms have come from a broad swath of jurisdictions, including:

  • Members of the City Councils of Denver, Chicago, Hartford and Allentown
  • The Mayors of Raleigh, Sacramento, Miami, Lexington and Kansas City
  • Lehigh County (PA) Commissioners
  • 55 Maryland legislators
  • 21 US Senators
  • Numerous Congressional Representatives

“Decisions such as these are not made by emotion, however,” Browne, Schweyer and Schlossberg wrote. “We certainly understand and recognize that they are made with an eye towards accountability to your shareholders and profitability. This is exactly why we believe it is in your best interest to maintain your local offices in Downtown Allentown.”

You can read the Pennsylvania officials’ letter here.

Featured image, Morning Call building | Google maps