More staffing cutbacks on the way at The Press of Atlantic City? The once mighty newspaper is again a take-over target. This time, by a giant hedge fund known for aggressive restructuring of struggling newspapers.
Alden Global Capital looking to buy Press of Atlantic City and AC Weekly, along with parent company, Lee Enterprises.
Lee Enterprise owns Press of Atlantic City and over 300 hundred publications in 26 states.
During a recent Editor & Publisher podcast, Gordon Borrell, founder and principal of Borrell Associates said local newspapers can realize untapped potential by expanding range and nature of content delivery to enhance level of engagement – in terms of audience and advertising.
It’s no secret that the Press of AC and other daily newspapers have seen a dramatic decline in readership and advertiser support. While the Internet played a significant role, critics claim editors spend too much time on cancel culture, social justice and political partisanship.
Lack of balanced reporting causing readers to flee.
BreakingAC and DownbeachBUZZ are 2 examples of local news orgs filling the void. Covering local issues.
Alden is a hedge fund known for slashing papers “to the bone” in order to survive. Many papers were on their last legs.
Too many newspapers have failed to properly leverage web.
Newspapers as a public trust or taxpayer funded political propaganda platform?
The reason why Alden exists and the reason why they can buy Lee? There’s no other buyers. Who else is going to buy these newspapers?
Newspapers are a business, not a public trust. Traditional media wants taxpayers to bail them out. It’s not just a business, it’s a heritage that must be maintained so the government has to look at newspapers in a different light.
Former Owner of Press of Atlantic City
Borrell loves newspapers. He’s taking a very different, cold-hearted approach to helping the industry survive. He’s not looking to the government for antitrust protection.
Borrell claims Lee Enterprises developed one of the best newspaper models to sustain journalism. A very strong focus on digital. Editors Note: Press of Atlantic struggles with digital.
Alden saying Lee’s got $350 to $400 million in real assets, real property. Sell that. They’re going to make a lot of their money back. They’re going to rent space, let people work from home. They’re going to cut, cut, cut. Their profit margins might go into the double digits instead of single digits.
Borrell: It’s going to require very smart people in the industry. Which I actually think Lee has. They’re doing some behind the scenes things that are really, really fascinating.
For new revenue streams, local media must cater to advertisers in a different way. Help them tell their own stories.
The last thing you really want is the government involved in running a journalistic organization. I want to see newspapers survive without the help of the federal government.Gordon Borrell
The Press of Atlantic City facing criticism for failing in role as civic watchdog. Little or no critical coverage of:
- So-called Waukesha Massacre where dangerous felon took advantage of prison reform. Drove SUV thru Christmas parade, killing 6 and injuring 60 Wisconsin residents. Most were children and elderly.
- Student sex abuse and growing violence within Atlantic City School District.
- Local municipal issues. Limited oversight of elected officials.
- Atlantic City riots of Summer 2020
- NJ Gov Murphy’s alleged mishandling of pandemic resulting in 8,000+ nursing home deaths.
September 2021 cover story of Editor & Publisher Magazine, “What’s Left Behind, The shadow of hedge fund and corporate ownership leaves newsrooms in fear they’ll be picked clean,” Alden Global Capital has a track record of cutting staff and resources to gain profits at the expense of essential local journalism. Research shows that when local newspapers disappear or are dramatically gutted, communities tend to see lower voter turnout, increased polarization, a general erosion of civic engagement, and an environment in which misinformation and conspiracy theories can spread more easily.
Editor & Publisher’s November issue, “Exploiting the local news desert“