How a campaign to save The Baltimore Sun may topple Alden’s ambitions

Photo (cc) 2010 by Brent Payne

Washington Post reporters Elahe Izadi and Sarah Ellison have a terrific account of how the campaign to save Tribune Publishing from Alden Global Capital got started.

It began with Save Our Sun, a group launched by several Baltimore Sun reporters. And as recently as a few weeks ago, it looked like they had won a significant but limited victory: Alden would take ownership of eight of Tribune’s nine major-market dailies, spinning the Sun and several affiliated papers off to nonprofit ownership.

That’s when things got more interesting. When Stewart Bainum, the hotel magnate behind the nonprofit plan, grew frustrated with Alden’s terms, he put together a group of billionaires and outbid Alden for the entire chain. Though Bainum’s victory is not yet assured, things are moving in the right direction. The papers would be spun off to local owners, some of them nonprofits, which would represent the biggest victory over chain journalism in many years.

Among the papers that would be saved from Alden’s clutches: the Chicago Tribune, New York’s Daily News and the Hartford Courant.

Meanwhile, Joshua Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab explains how Alden can win even if it loses: the hedge fund already owns 32% of Tribune. So if the Bainum group ends up paying a premium, Alden will be among the beneficiaries.

Previous coverage.