The fate of two leading newspaper publishers is up in the air

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Wednesday is the deadline to submit offers for McClatchy, the bankrupt newspaper firm. This is not your ordinary bankruptcy: McClatchy is a vital source of local news in the United States. The company owns 30 titles in 14 states, from the Sacramento Beeto to the Miami Herald. Civic leaders are very concerned about what might come next.

"I strongly urge the bankruptcy court to consider what is best for our community and Florida when weighing competing offers for the Miami Herald and the rest of the McClatchy newspapers," Miami Mayor Francis Suarez wrote to the court judge. of bankruptcies in mid-June. Suarez and many others want documents like the Herald to return to local property … but first we have to see who is bidding.
Wednesday's deadline is the start of a month-long process. "In the case of multiple bids, an auction will be held a week later," writes Kevin G. Hall, the McClatchy reporter assigned to cover his company's process. The court will review the plan on July 24.
As Ken Doctor said on Monday, "This is the mid-year witchcraft hour for America's daily press," with numerous possible results. McClatchy's biggest investor, Chatham, could end the newspaper chain. Or Gannett. Or a group of investors from the "growing world of civic journalism for good" who could establish "the first major nonprofit newspaper chain." The doctor has details here.

Now from one chain of papers, McClatchy, to another, Tribune …

The view from Chicago

Veteran media columnist Robert Feder writes: "Chicago Tribune employees prepare for bad news, but expect a miracle. Today marks the end of the suspension agreement for Alden Global Capital, the New York-based hedge fund that It owns 33 percent of Tribune Publishing Shares. That means Alden is now free to increase its stake in the company, including the possibility of acquiring 24 percent of Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the Los Angeles Times. As a majority shareholder Alden would be free to bleed the company dries up through radical layoffs and other cuts to vital journalism. "

Alden's impending storm clouds are the backdrop for this next item …

Fighting for local property

In the Baltimore Sun and in city civic-minded circles, there has been a movement underway for "Save our Sun" since April. Now, the union that represents journalists at Tribune Publishing's ten brands is taking it across the country. Quoting the press release: "In a broad vote of mistrust in Tribune's current leadership, NewsGuild members in publications including The Capital Gazette, The Chicago Tribune, The Hartford Courant, The Morning Call, The Orlando Sentinel, The Virginian "Pilot and more are looking for local investors who recognize that local newspapers are vital community institutions." Journalists are promoting the campaign through social media and asking readers to sign petitions.

"We have to do this to try to save what we do," Morning Call reporter Jennifer W. Sheehan told me Tuesday. "There is nothing good that will come out of a company merger (which is what we hope will happen). We will become an ATM." The Allentown-based Morning Call is "the official document for this part of Pennsylvania," he said. "In the last 14 years I have been in the newspaper, we have reduced many rhythms. We have entire areas that we no longer cover and it is sad."

The WSJ has breaking news about Tribune …

Cara Lombardo and Lukas Alpert with story: Tribune "is in talks to add Alden Global Capital co-founder" Randall Smith "to its board of directors as part of a deal that would prevent the hedge fund from making a hostile offer to buy the rest of the newspaper company in the near future. " Obviously, Alden is in no rush to buy control of the Tribune "due to the instability caused by the pandemic," according to one of the sources …

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