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Vote comes one day after senators penned letter urging Alden Capital to drop takeover bid

Senators warn Alden they’re still watching; several New Mexico newspapers were at risk

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), along with 18 other Senate Democrats, in applauding news that Gannett shareholders voted to reject a hostile takeover by a hedge fund that could have gutted local papers in New Mexico and across the country. The vote comes one day after the senators penned a letter to Alden Global Capital LLC, urging the hedge fund to drop its bid. Alden Global Capital has a history of buying local papers only to then turn around and dismantle them by firing reporters and selling company assets. So while yesterday’s vote is good news for Gannett and the people who depend on the 145 papers it publishes across the country, including several New Mexico papers, the senators noted that this is not the first time Alden’s predatory tactics have threatened the free press and it isn’t likely to be the last. They vowed to continue watching Alden closely. 

Gannett’s New Mexico newspaper portfolio includes the Alamogordo Daily News, the Carlsbad Current-Argus, The Farmington Daily Times, the Deming Headlight, the Las Cruces Sun-News, the Silver City Sun-News, and the Ruidoso News.

In April, the Washington Post reported that Alden is now under investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL) for taking almost $250 million in employee pension savings and investing it in its own accounts. In some cases, the company moved 90 percent of retirees’ savings into two of its own funds, according to the Post.  

“Newspapers are a public good.  They provide important local perspective on community developments, state government, and national news.  Moreover, they promote civic engagement and better-informed citizens, both of which are important goals for a productive, inclusive society, and a functioning democracy.  Unfortunately, the print media is already facing challenges due to significant concentration in the advertising sector and increasing online consumption of news.  Your predatory approach to these purchases will further undermine newspapers’ ability to fulfill their mission of providing news and information to the public,” the senators wrote.

The letter was signed by Udall, Heinrich, and Brown, along with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). 

A copy of the letter can be found below:

Heath Bradford Freeman

President & Director

Alden Global Capital LLC

885 3rd Avenue #34

New York, NY 10022

Randall Duncan Smith

Founder & Chief of Investments

Alden Global Capital LLC

885 3rd Avenue #34

New York, NY 10022

Dear Mr. Freeman and Mr. Smith:

We write to urge you to abandon your hostile takeover of Gannett newspapers.  Alden Global Capital’s track record of media purchases is well-known and devastating for the communities whose newspapers are gutted in the process.  Gannett-owned local newspapers are critical to keeping residents informed and engaged in our states, and we oppose your effort to acquire them. 

Alden Global Capital’s previous purchases of newspapers follow a pattern of profiteering.  First, you lay off large portions of the newspaper staff.  Then you combine or eliminate parts of the newspaper portfolio.  Finally, you sell the paper’s assets, including its real estate, leaving a skeleton of the paper incapable of meeting the basic information needs of its community.  In addition, it was recently reported that you are under federal investigation by the Department of Labor for taking nearly $250 million in employee pension savings and investing it in your own funds.  Your reckless acquisition and destruction of newspapers is bad for our constituents and our country. 

Newspapers are a public good.  They provide important local perspective on community developments, state government, and national news.  Moreover, they promote civic engagement and better-informed citizens, both of which are important goals for a productive, inclusive society and a functioning democracy.  Unfortunately, the print media is already facing challenges due to significant concentration in the advertising sector and increasing online consumption of news.  Your predatory approach to these purchases will further undermine newspapers’ ability to fulfill their mission of providing news and information to the public.

In short, your newspaper-killing business model is bad for newspaper workers and retirees, bad for communities, bad for the public, and bad for democracy.  We ask you to immediately drop your bid to buy Gannett and spare communities across the country served by Gannett papers, the consequences of an Alden Global Capital newspaper takeover.  

Sincerely,

  

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