15 January 2024

Alden Capital Proves That They Are Not the Worst Possible Thing to Happen to a Newspaper

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with Alden Capital, but for those of you who are not, they are a hedge fund whose business model is to purchase a newspaper company that has dominant market penetration in a metropolitan area, and then fire everyone and make money from the gasses produced as the corpse rots.

In Baltimore, they purchased the venerable Baltimore Sun, (Founded in 1837) in 2021, and proceeded to gut the institution, leading to the formation of a non-profit to compete with it in 2022, The Baltimore Banner.

Needless to say, Alden did not like this, how dare they attempt to force a hedge fund to compete in the free market. That's communist!

So they have sold the paper, to David D. Smith.

Does that name ring a bell?

Well, he did get some press after being caught getting a blow job from a prostitute in 1996, in a company car no less, but what you probably know him from is, well, let's look at a portion from the notice that went out to Sun employees:

They are taking great pains to tell their employees that it’s David D. Smith personally, and not Sinclair Broadcast Group, who is buying the paper, because Sinclair is to journalism what Ebola is to French kissing.

Still, I sense a great disturbance in the force, as if dozens of Baltimore Sun employees started updating their resumes. 

Let's see what The Baltimore Banner has to say about David D. Smith and the sale:

Local businessman David Smith has purchased Baltimore’s oldest newspaper from Alden Global Capital, putting an institution that has been reporting on the state for more than a century back in the hands of local owners for the first time since 1986.

The purchase was announced in a story in The Sun Monday.

Smith, who is the executive chairman of Sinclair Inc., personally purchased The Baltimore Sun Media Group, which includes The Sun and its affiliated newspapers, including the Capital Gazette newspapers in Annapolis, the Carroll County Times, the Howard County Times and the Towson Times from Alden, a hedge fund known for draconian cost-cutting measures. Sinclair, based in Hunt Valley, owns more than 200 television stations, including Fox 45.

Oh, but it gets even better:


Smith has given generously over the years to conservative and local causes through his David D. Smith Family Foundation. Tax forms obtained by the Banner show since 2015 he has given $581,000 to Young Americans for Liberty, $536,000 to Project Veritas, $150,000 to Turning Point USA, and $121,000 to Moms for Liberty.


Smith told The Sun he will be joined in the newspaper venture by one partner, with an undisclosed share of ownership: Armstrong Williams, a well-known conservative political commentator who hosts a nationally syndicated television show on Sinclair network affiliates.

(emphasis mine)

So there are worse things for a newspaper than Alden, and David D. Smith is one of them.

My guess, completely unsupported by any facts, is that Smith probably overpaid, but it could be that Alden decided to do this as a fuck-you to Baltimore for supporting the Banner.

Living in suburban Baltimore, I am not pleased.


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