….It’s heresy for a journalist to ask readers to consider dropping their newspaper. Beyond the obvious self-interest, reporters and editors consider a subscription to your local newspaper as a paramount civic duty, a view shared by academics, politicians, and activists. Local reporters hold government and corporations accountable, the refrain goes. They keep an eye on school boards and polluters and their stories boost voter turnout. They uncover corruption. They knit the weave in the social fabric. They foster democracy!
But when you pay for a newspaper, you’re also making a decision to send money to whoever owns it. And if you really care about local news, you might want to think twice about continuing your subscription to one of the 50-plus dailies operated by Alden Global Capital under the Digital First Media nameplate in Denver, Detroit, Long Beach, San Jose, Boston, St. Paul, and other smaller cities. Good journalism still gets done at these newspapers because reporters care. But less and less of it gets printed, because Alden owner Randall Smith and his right-hand man, Heath Freeman, don’t care about the news. As newspaper industry analyst Ken Doctor has amply documented, Alden is cannibalizing its papers for profit in a way that should repel subscribers.