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“Invest or Sell”: Digital First Media Workers Protest Outside Alden Global Capital’s New York Office

Web ExclusiveMay 09, 2018
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In New York City, dozens of journalists from around the country rallied outside the headquarters of Alden Global Capital Tuesday to protest censorship and layoffs imposed by the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain, Digital First Media, which is owned by the New York-based hedge fund. Democracy Now! video fellow Nat Needham was there and filed this report.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NAT NEEDHAM: On May 8th, a group of reporters from Digital First Media, a national newspaper chain owned by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital, rallied outside the hedge fund’s office in New York City to demand that the owners either invest in their newspapers or sell them to someone who will.

JOE RUBINO: My name is Joe Rubino. I’m a business reporter for The Denver Post newspaper in Denver, Colorado. And I’m standing here outside the Lipstick Building in Midtown Manhattan because it is the corporate headquarters for Alden Global Capital. They are the owner of The Denver Post and dozens of other papers across the country. And their business practices are killing the newspaper industry.

GEORGE KELLY: My name is George Kelly. I’m a breaking news reporter for the East Bay Times in Oakland, California. We won a Pulitzer Prize last year covering the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, through which 36 people lost their lives in a warehouse. Our investigative reporters, our breaking news reporters, our photographers and editors worked to hold institutions accountable. We need to know that nothing like this can ever happen again. We won the Pulitzer Prize, and we had layoffs a week later. I flew 3,000 miles today to give Alden Global Capital a message: Invest or sell.

CHRISTINE BONANDUCCI: My name is Chris Bonanducci. I’m with the News Guild of Greater Philadelphia. In the box, there are 11,724 signatures to a petition to Heath Freeman and Randall Smith, signed by the DFM workers, as well as readers and community activists that care about the quality of journalism.

NAT NEEDHAM: After entering the building, the Digital First Media workers attempted to present the more than 11,000 signatures to Alden Global Capital, but they were refused entry to the offices and were threatened with criminal trespass.

SECURITY: Ladies and gentlemen, the building has requested you leave. Failure to do so will be considered trespass. Please exit now.

THOMAS PEELE: We asked if we could take this up to Mr. Freeman and Mr. Smith. They said no. We asked if security, we could leave it with them to have it delivered upstairs. And they said no, told us to get out of the building.

JOE RUBINO: They don’t have public shareholders. They are a private hedge fund. So they’re not accountable. You can go to their website. There’s no investor information or investor contact. It’s literally just their logo over a stock image. They’re unreachable. They’re a black box. Journalism is about accountability. I hope that this moment here, calling out Alden, is a flashpoint. Newspapers should be owned by the community. They should be close to the people. They shouldn’t be accountable to money and profit margins. They should be accountable to the truth, and the truth alone.

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