From the top down, employees of the Chicago Tribune are bracing for an ominous future under new owners.
Alden Global Capital, the New York-based hedge fund known for severe cost-cutting at newspapers across the country, is expected to close Tuesday on its purchase of Chicago-based Tribune Publishing. Shareholders approved the transaction Friday.
“What comes next for Chicago Tribune and for our newsroom is uncertain,” Colin McMahon, editor-in-chief of the Chicago Tribune and chief content officer of Tribune Publishing, told staffers in an internal email.
“I expect to get some direction next week when our new owners officially take over. Until then, take a breath, practice your craft, control what you can,” he wrote.
Since Alden acquired a 32 percent share of Tribune Publishing in November 2019, staffing in Tribune city and suburban newsrooms has fallen 32 percent. With Alden fully in control of the company, there’s no end in sight to further cuts.
In addition to the flagship Tribune, the company’s regional holdings include the Naperville Sun, Elgin Courier-News, Lake County News-Sun, Aurora Beacon-News, Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana, Daily Southtown, the weekly publications of Pioneer Press, and the monthly Chicago magazine and Naperville magazine.
Here is the text of McMahon’s email:
A tough day with lots of feelings.
But we’ve been through the emotional wringer before at Chicago Tribune. And, time and again, we’ve emerged strong in our journalism and stronger in our commitment to our communities.
What comes next for Chicago Tribune and for our newsroom is uncertain. But we’ve got a good story to tell about how we are building a sustainable future by delivering on our mission of serving our audiences and our communities. Give us the space to do the work, and we will continue to deliver quality journalism with impact while meeting the realities of the business.
I expect to get some direction next week when our new owners officially take over. Until then, take a breath, practice your craft, control what you can.
I promise to let you know as much as I can as soon as I can. If that’s next week, we will set up a newsroom-wide Teams call and take it from there.
Thanks for your passion, your dedication and for all the work you do.