U.S. SENATE News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), along with 18 other Senate Democrats, in applauding news that Gannett shareholders voted to reject a hostile takeover by a hedge fund that could have gutted local papers in New Mexico and across the country.
The vote comes one day after the senators penned a letter to Alden Global Capital LLC, urging the hedge fund to drop its bid. Alden Global Capital has a history of buying local papers only to then turn around and dismantle them by firing reporters and selling company assets. So while the vote is good news for Gannett and the people who depend on the 145 papers it publishes across the country, including several New Mexico papers, the senators noted that this is not the first time Alden’s predatory tactics have threatened the free press and it isn’t likely to be the last.
They vowed to continue watching Alden closely.
Gannett’s New Mexico newspaper portfolio includes the Alamogordo Daily News, Carlsbad Current-Argus, The Farmington Daily Times, Deming Headlight, Las Cruces Sun-News, Silver City Sun-News and Ruidoso News.
In April, the Washington Post reported that Alden is now under investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL) for taking almost $250 million in employee pension savings and investing it in its own accounts. In some cases, the company moved 90 percent of retirees’ savings into two of its own funds, according to the Post.
“Newspapers are a public good. They provide important local perspective on community developments, state government, and national news. Moreover, they promote civic engagement and better-informed citizens, both of which are important goals for a productive, inclusive society, and a functioning democracy. Unfortunately, the print media is already facing challenges due to significant concentration in the advertising sector and increasing online consumption of news. Your predatory approach to these purchases will further undermine newspapers’ ability to fulfill their mission of providing news and information to the public,” the senators wrote.
The letter was signed by Udall, Heinrich and Brown, along with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
A copy of the letter can be found here.