Journalists at Tribune Publishing properties are bracing themselves for a round of layoffs following the vote by Tribune shareholders to accept Alden Global Capital’s $633 million purchase bid on Friday.
Despite harsh criticism of the vote, the purchase seems like a done deal.
Tribune Publishing reports that 81.28% of the shares held by non-Alden stockholders voted to approve the merger, more than the two-thirds needed.
The controversial non-vote by Patrick Soon-Shiong, the second-largest Tribune shareholder, seems like “a sad joke,” Bloomberg writes. Los Angeles Times publisher Soon-Shiong failed to click any of the boxes, including for, “against” or “abstain” and the vote was recorded as “for.”
The result is that Tribune Publishing will be gobbled up by a “hedge fund that seems more interested in laying off journalists and running a tight ship than it does winning Pulitzer Prizes,” Bloomberg adds.
Hotel magnate Stewart Bainum had put together a coalition of potential buyers for local properties, including The Hartford Courant and The Baltimore Sun, which he personally would have acquired.
But it all fell apart when Chicago “plutocrats” failed to step forward to take over the flagship Chicago Tribune, Margaret Sullivan writes in The Washington Post.
“Local investors — especially in a
prosperous town like Chicago — could have stepped forward to block a hedge fund from gaining
control of several of the nation’s top daily newspapers,” per Sullivan.
“Whatever its misleading public statements may claim to the contrary, Alden is interested only in the short run: the next quarter’s and next year’s profit-and-loss statements,” she adds.
Sullivan quotes Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of Harvard’s Nieman Foundation and a former top editor of the Chicago Tribune, as calling it “devastating.”
But perhaps the harshest comment on the sale, which is due to close at the end of June, comes from a headline in Barrett Sport Media: “Once The Heartbest of Newspapers, Chicago Is Death Row.”