CNN recently reported how journalists at the Denver Post are fighting against management at its parent company Alden Global Capital due to staff cuts and other internal changes. The situation has escalated so much so that Larry Ryckman, former Senior Editor, left the company in May to start The Colorado Sun with the help of his crowdfunding campaign and an unconventional startup.
The relationship between the journalists at The Denver Post and management at Alden Global Capital, its hedge fund owner, has recently been strained. The hedge fund owners cut the staff of the Denver Post from 300 to 60 employees back in March 2018. Then, an editorial published in The Washington Post, reported how journalists at the Denver Post accused Alden Global Capital of cutting jobs and withholding resources needed for journalists to cover the communities. The Washington Post article says how Alden has been investing in American newspapers since 2009 and owns approximately 100 daily and weekly papers in the U.S, including the Mercury News in California and St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota.
Ryckman told CNN, “We were under attack by our owners. This was never going to end as long as Alden Global Capital owned The Denver Post.” Ryckman has since resigned as Senior Editor of news as of May, however, he has not left the media industry. With the help of his Kickstarter campaign, which raised $161,000, and a large grant from Civil Media, a blockchain startup, Ryckman started The Colorado Sun, his latest news publication owned solely by the journalists who run it.
CNN reported how Civil Media has given out almost $1 million in grants to a dozen local news organizations, like The Colorado Sun, and is also funding policy oriented websites like Cannabis Wire and Global Ground, an international media group. Civil Media CEO Matthew Iles says how newsrooms that are a part of Civil Media will need to abide by a journalistic code of ethics, which some professionals in the journalism field are skeptical about. CNN interviewed Dan Kennedy, an associate journalism professor at Northeastern University about his opinions on Civil Media’s approach. He says, “I really don’t think you can run a news organization as a democracy.”
There have been other recent incidents of clashes between corporate owners and journalists. The Los Angeles Times fought with management at Tronc, its parent company. New York Daily News, also run by Tronc, cut half of its editorial staff on Monday July 23, in an effort to refocus “much of our talent on breaking news.” That being said, some news outlets are combining in order to still remain profitable and avoid confrontations like these. Local news website DCist was acquired by WAMU and relaunched this past spring.