Chicago Tribune fights for its journalistic life

On January 13, reporters at the Chicago Tribune were offered buyouts. For many, the signal was clear: the Tribune, one of America’s proudest and most essential news organizations, was about to be hollowed out, as other regional papers around the country have been.

Our dear friend Gary Marx, an extraordinary investigative reporter there, decided not to take the threat lying down. He and his colleague David Jackson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on January 19 decrying the predatory tactics of Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund that has sucked much of the life out of The Denver Post, The Mercury News, and other newspapers.

The fund holds 32 percent of the Tribune’s shares, making it the company’s largest single shareholder.

Gary and David called for a “civic-minded local owner or group of owners” to step in and save the Tribune. Strong local newspapers, they wrote, are “vital to their communities and American democracy.”

On January 25, Gary took his case to NPR, where he spoke with Weekend Edition host (and proud Chicagoan) Scott Simon. Anticipated cuts “would be absolutely devastating,” he said. “[W]e’re not just part of the community. We’re helping create this community.”