At the corner of Stetson and Randolph, the Chicago Tribune Tower stands tall, the Chicago Tribune’s namesake splashed in white typeface across the stone exterior. The skyscraper looms over the Chicago river, keeping a watchful eye on the city which it covers. Less than two miles down the river, the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center pumps out nearly 500,000 daily issues to the city’s residents.
Over the past few years, the Chicago Tribune’s parent company, Tribune Publishing Company, has come under various administrations—a revolving door of billionaire CEOS. In December of 2019, the New York City-based hedge fund, Alden Global Capital, acquired a 32% stake in shares of Tribune Publishing.
This acquisition could be the slow demise of the Chicago Tribune.
Alden has gained notoriety for buying up local newspapers, dramatically cutting their staff, and running away with the profit.
In 2018, the Denver Post made national headlines with a series of op-eds, slamming the hedge fund for its purchase of the newspaper and ensuing layoffs that left the newspaper with a barebone staff.
The Denver Post is not alone. The Boston Herald, the Los Angeles Daily News, and the Orange County Register are only a few of the many newspapers that have been liquidated by Alden’s draconian cuts in recent years.
Alden promised the Chicago Tribune that it wouldn’t increase its stake in Tribune Publishing or aim to take control of the newspaper until July of 2020. This has left desperate journalists scrambling, like Parker parent emeritus Gary Marx, searching for a solution to halt Alden in its tracks and save the Chicago Tribune from going down under.
With the rise of technology, the print newspaper’s sales have decreased. Between 2000 and 2015, print newspaper advertising revenue dropped from about $60 billion to about $20 billion, according to The Atlantic. While many newspapers have turned to online reporting, online subscriptions and readership don’t make up the necessary margin to keep these papers afloat.
The slogan of The Washington Post, bought by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in 2013, says, “democracy dies in darkness.” In a political environment riddled with misinformation, unbiased newspapers are essential to not only American democracy, but democracies around the world.
In times of confusion and worry, people turn to the news as a reliable source among the partial landscape of American democracy. Where do we turn when newspapers are no longer reliable?
“The Weekly” believes in the power of journalism and the significance of truth. Like American politics, Parker is full of contrasting opinions that often murky the waters between objective and subjective. As a newspaper, it is the job of “The Weekly” to inform the community and illuminate issues within the student body. To maintain the democracy at our school, and the larger democracy of our country, we must protect newspapers as beacons of truth.