Sarah Ellison of The Washington Post profiles Heath Freeman, the undertaker-in-chief for Alden Global Capital’s MediaNews Group, the worst newspaper chain in the known universe.
Alden is notorious for destroying good newspapers like The Denver Post and The Mercury News of San Jose, and is now making a play for Tribune Publishing, which owns big metros like the Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun. In Massachusetts, Alden owns the Boston Herald, The Sun of Lowell and the Sentinel & Enterprise of Fitchburg.
“I would love our team to be remembered as the team that saved the newspaper business,” Freeman tells Ellison. She follows up with this withering paragraph:
This is what Freeman’s approach to saving the newspaper business looks like in St. Paul, Minn.: A local sheriff blew his budget by $1 million and there was no Pioneer Press reporter available to cover the county board meeting. In San Jose: There was no reporter on the education beat at the Mercury News when the pandemic started closing schools. In Denver: In the aftermath of the 2012 Aurora movie theater mass shooting, the editor was asked to slash staff to improve the next month’s budget numbers. In Vallejo, Calif.: There is exactly one news reporter left at the Times-Herald to cover a community of 120,000 people.
The best thing that could happen for those communities is for MediaNews Group to collapse. The papers would still be there, and they would almost certainly have a brighter future on their own.