It’s been another terrible day for Denver Post journalists who were told they’ll undergo yet another round of cuts that will reduce about one-third of the newsroom’s remaining staff. Those whose jobs will be eliminated will include 25 union members and five management positions—a move that will further gut an already thinly stretched staff and puts the newspaper’s long-term survival at risk.
In 2016, I documented the Post’s precipitous fall under Digital First Media and its secretive owner, Alden Global Capital, the New York City hedge fund the paper’s journalists have held most responsible for decimating their newsroom. Alden has slashed journalism nationally, making significant cuts at dozens of its newspapers from coast to coast as a way to maximize profits.
Early this year, at least 27 positions were eliminated at the Digital First-run Mercury News and East Bay Times in California; the Trentonian in New Jersey laid off its lone remaining photographer; and plans for “significant” layoffs were announced at the Orange County Register, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside. Ironically, a minority shareholder in MediaNews Group Enterprises Inc., the Post’s parent, sued Media News and Alden last week, citing “possible mismanagement and breaches of fiduciary duty.” Among the claims, the minority group alleges, profits from the media properties have been directed into poorly performing investments.
According to reports from the newsroom, today’s announcement at the Post was met with sobs. This latest round of cuts—expected to begin in early April—will see the Post’s staff shrunk to about 60 journalists, a number that includes not only reporters, but also editors, photographers, newspaper designers, and members of the newspaper’s digital team. For context, the cuts will put the Post’s staff at about one-fifth of its size from just 12 years ago. Earlier this year, the paper moved to a digital paywall, though Post management couldn’t guarantee the decision would stave off future cuts. The subscription announcement came around the same time that much of the newspaper’s staff was moved from downtown Denver to a printing-plant complex in Adams County.
There’s no way to sugarcoat this: Without new ownership at the Post, daily newspaper journalism in one of the country’s fastest-growing and most vibrant cities is just about dead. Beyond people losing their jobs, this an awful conclusion for anyone who cares about a vibrant press reporting on business and government. It’s a sad day for Denver, and this city will be diminished as its flagship daily further becomes a shell of its former self.