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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Bad Signs for Newspapers

Many posts have dealt with media problems such as ghost newspapers and news deserts.

Some national outlets are doing fine, but local newspapers are struggling.

Will Huntsberry and Scott Lewis, the Voice of San Diego
San Diego’s daily paper of record, the Union-Tribune, was sold by billionaire owner Patrick Soon-Shiong and his family to MediaNews Group, owned by Alden Global Capital – a company that has come to be feared across the ever-dwindling newspaper landscape. Just 10 minutes after U-T staffers learned of the sale, they received an email notifying them of staff reductions to come, one staffer tweeted. Alden would offer buyouts “in an effort for staff reductions to be voluntary,” the email read. Alden was referred to as a ruthless corporate strip-miner “seemingly intent on destroying local journalism,” by one prominent media critic in 2018. But in a struggling local newspaper environment, it’s hard to tell the difference between strip mining and regular mining.


The veteran courts and criminal justice reporter Greg Moran captured the feeling of many that the paper was an afterthought to the Los Angeles billionaire who owned it. “All we did at the [Union-Tribune] since [Soon-Shiong] bought us is be profitable, executeon a plan to transition to a digital op. Didn’t hemorrhage money like the LAT, didn’t get a boatload of hires. And for that, the richest guy in LA sells us to the biggest chop shop in journalism,” Moran wrote on Twitter.

Outfits such as Alden buy the paper, flip the real estate, and literally sell the hardware for scrap. 

Michael McCarthy at Front Office Sports:
Less than six years ago, the New York Times asked whether the upstart sports site The Athletic would “pillage” newspapers of their best talent.

After today’s stunning announcement that the Times is shuttering its Sports section in favor of The Athletic, some wonder if that divide-and-conquer strategy is still in effect. But now it will be implemented by the august Times – not the money-losing Athletic.

On Monday, the Times announced it would dissolve its storied Sports section in favor of daily coverage from The Athletic, which it purchased for $550 million last year.


Sounds nice. Think of one big, national sports section in the future for the Gray Lady of journalism.

But what’s to stop the Times from doing what The Athletic threatened years ago?

Namely, stealing all the good, young sportswriters from around the country and putting their local papers, those are that are left, out of business?