Subscribers to the News & Record may think that Greensboro’s daily newspaper couldn’t get much thinner.
But a hedge fund known for laying off journalists, selling real estate and cutting newsroom budgets is making a play to buy Lee Enterprises, which owns the News & Record, the Winston-Salem Journal and about 90 other publications.
The letter to the Lee Enterprises board of directors states, “Alden Global Capital, LLC (‘Alden’) is a significant investor in American newspapers, with platforms including MediaNews Group, Inc. and Tribune Publishing Company (collectively referred to as ‘we’) that are committed to ensuring communities nationwide have access to robust, independently minded local journalism. Our goal is to provide valued news and information to local subscribers nationwide, led by a talented team of seasoned newspaper executives who have worked in journalism for an average of more than 30 years.”
In response to that letter, Jon Schleuss, president of the NewsGuild union, tweeted, “Alden continues to lie about caring for local news as it makes a play for Lee Enterprises. The vulture fund should not be allowed to own any newsrooms. Period. #SaveLocalNews”
Alden purchased the Tribune newspaper chain a couple of months ago despite desperate efforts by journalists to find another buyer.
Lee had already made major cuts in the number of journalists it employed but, according to those in the industry, Alden will slash the newsroom budgets even further.
One thing Alden won’t be able to do in Greensboro is sell off any real estate.
Lee Enterprises originally had a contract with Berkshire-Hathaway to manage BH Media and, in March 2020, Lee bought the News & Record and over 70 other newspapers from Berkshire-Hathaway, but the 6.5 acre News & Record site on East Market Street was not included in the sale. The property is currently back on the market after a contract to purchase the property fell through last summer.
The News & Record is currently housed in a leased office at 3001 South Elm-Eugene St. and is printed in Winston-Salem.