By:
May 26, 2021

A move that many hoped would never happen has happened. Alden Global Capital has completed its $633 million purchase of the Tribune Publishing shares it didn’t already own, according to regulatory findings.

What does that mean? Alden now takes over Tribune’s nine metro newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, the New York Daily News and Orlando Sentinel. Along with its chain of 70-some dailies in the MediaNews Group, Alden now becomes the second-largest newspaper chain in the U.S.

But there are fears that the hedge fund Alden will run its new papers as it has the ones it already owns by slashing payroll and resources.

In the first major news since the acquisition, Tribune Publishing CEO Terry Jimenez, who was the only member of Tribune’s board to vote against the Alden deal, has left the company. According to the Chicago Tribune’s Robert Channick, Jimenez received $1.734 million in equity compensation. His total golden parachute is believed to be more than $2.5 million.

Now journalists at the former Tribune papers hold their collective breath.

Last week, Alden president Heath Freeman told Poynter’s Rick Edmonds through a spokeswoman, “Local newspaper brands and operations are the engines that power trusted local news in communities across the United States. The purchase of Tribune reaffirms our commitment to the newspaper industry and our focus on getting publications to a place where they can operate sustainably over the long term.”

But many are doubtful about that, based on Alden’s reputation.

In case you missed it earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal’s Lukas I. Alpert and Cara Lombardo wrote about Freeman in: “Meet the Hedge Fund Boss Who Just Bought Tribune’s Newspapers.”

By the way, Alpert reported that in closing the Tribune deal, Alden borrowed $278 million, all of which goes on Tribune’s books.

Might The New York Times buy The Athletic?

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Mullin reported that The Athletic — the ad-free, subscription-based sports site — was interested in a possible merger with The New York Times. Now comes this scoop from Axios’ Sara Fischer: The Times is interested in buying The Athletic.

Fischer reported that the Times has reached out to former Athletic employees with questions about The Athletic’s business model and culture. Fischer wrote, “The Times is eyeing a full acquisition, not a joint venture or strategic partnership.”

So why would the Times be interested in The Athletic?

As Fischer writes, “The deal would help bolster the Times’ subscription strategy, especially if it were to one day bundle its existing subscription offerings. The Times has nearly 8 million total paid subscribers, with nearly 7 million paying for just digital products. It’s on pace to meet its goal of 10 million digital subscribers by 2025. The Times could possibly include The Athletic’s sports subscription business as part of a larger subscription bundle.”

FanDuel and the AP to team up

Another scoop from Axios’s Sara Fischer: FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports and online sportsbook site, has reached a deal in which FanDuel will be the exclusive provider of sports odds for The Associated Press. Fischer wrote, “Under the terms of the agreement, the AP will include FanDuel sportsbook odds exclusively in its daily sports odds fixtures, game previews, and other sports stories where odds are mentioned.”

It’s not known publicly how much FanDuel is paying the AP for the exclusivity on providing odds. FanDuel chief marketing officer Mike Raffensperger told Fischer that FanDuel is working to become a media and content company as well as being a gaming company.

Fired from CNN, Rick Santorum tells his side to Fox News

Former CNN contributor Rick Santorum in 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Well, you knew this was coming. Rick Santorum, who was fired as a CNN contributor after recent remarks about Native Americans, popped up on — you guessed it — Fox News to talk about his dismissal.

Appearing on Sean Hannity’s show Monday night, Santorum said, “You get savaged for telling the truth.”

Last month, Santorum, a former GOP senator in Pennsylvania, was speaking at a conservative youth conference and said, “We birthed a nation from nothing. Yes, there were Native Americans, but there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

Santorum went on Chris Cuomo’s show on CNN shortly after and said he “misspoke,” but he never apologized. On Hannity’s show, Santorum said, “What I said was not at all disparaging of Native Americans. What I was talking about was the founding of the United States of America, and that Native Americans did not have a role in the founding of our country.”

Santorum told Hannity, “CNN has a right to fire me if they don’t like what I’m saying or what they are doing. I have no animus, I appreciate the opportunity that they gave me, but it shows that the left is intolerant. They are worried, I’m sure that their viewership which is very left was going to pay a price. And the intolerance of the left is the issue in the cancel culture that is flowing from it. And I hear from a lot of liberals, in fact, many CNN contributors who talked to me afterward who were very, very concerned about the cancel culture that is now hitting them at CNN.”

Yeah, maybe it’s that. Or maybe Santorum said something really dumb and made a mess of it when he tried to explain it and CNN did the right thing in getting rid of him.

More from the AP controversy

The Associated Press is going to launch a review of its social media policies after staffers there raised concerns and questions following last week’s controversy in which a young reporter was fired for supposedly violating those rules. Emily Wilder, a 22-year-old reporter based in Phoenix, was fired for violating the news organization’s social media policy, although she said she was never told which tweets were problematic. While in college at Stanford, Wilder had expressed pro-Palestinian views and was involved in campus activism.

AP’s rules state its journalists should not express opinions on political or controversial issues because it could hurt the AP’s reputation for objectivity.

AP media writer David Bauder, who has been all over the story that impacts the place he works, wrote, “The incident illustrates how it can be difficult for a news organization, particularly a traditionalist like The Associated Press, to handle the free-wheeling nature of social media.”

Bauder also wrote, “The AP’s culture and social media has never been a comfortable mix. The AP sells its news coverage to newspapers, digital and broadcast customers, and tells its journalists not to tweet out breaking news until after it is shared on the AP wire, which makes them a step slower than competitors quick to tweet.”

In an open letter to management, more than 100 AP journalists wrote, “The lack of communication … gives us no confidence that any one of us couldn’t be next, sacrificed without explanation. … It has left our colleagues — particularly emerging journalists — wondering how we treat our own, what culture we embrace and what values we truly espouse as a company.”

A controversial cartoon

Andrew Yang. (John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx)

Andrew Yang and his wife, Evelyn, are criticizing a New York Daily News editorial cartoon of Yang, with his wife calling it a “racist disfiguration.”

In the Bill Bramhall cartoon, Yang, who is running for mayor of New York City, is seen emerging from a subway stop in Times Square while one shop owner says to another, “The tourists are back.”

In a recent interview, Yang said his favorite subway stop was Times Square. The cartoon, one can assume, is to reflect those New York City natives who believe Yang is not a true New Yorker and that they consider Times Square for tourists.

But Yang has lived in New York for 25 years and his wife was born in Queens. In addition, the cartoon drew criticism for how Yang was drawn.

Evelyn Yang tweeted, “I can’t believe my eyes. To publish this racist disfiguration of @AndrewYang as a tourist, in NYC where I was born, where Andrew has lived for 25 years, where our boys were born, where 16% of us are Asian and anti-Asian hate is up 900%. #StopAsianHate”

During an appearance in Queens on Tuesday, Evelyn Yang held up the cartoon and said, “I want to show you. This is the cartoon. This cartoonist disfigured Andrew’s face. He has overtly beady, slanted eyes. Now, these white people standing here on the other side have larger eyes and human irises. They’re calling Andrew, this Asian man, a tourist, coming from who knows where, but probably from a land of other people who look just like him with his shifty, beady eyes.”

On Tuesday, Andrew Yang put out a statement, saying in part, “Every time you say I’m not a real New Yorker, you’re telling another Asian American that they don’t belong.”

He added, “Whether you were born here, just arrived here from another country or are fresh out of college to follow your dreams — I will say clearly that all New Yorkers belong. Our city is stronger when we are united in humanity and fellowship, and not divided by false narratives of who belongs and who doesn’t.”

In a story by the Daily News’ Michael Gartland, Daily News editorial page editor Josh Greenman defended the cartoon, saying, “Andrew Yang is a leading contender to be mayor of New York City, and as commentators, his opponents and The News editorial board have recently pointed out, he’s recently revealed there are major gaps in his knowledge of New York City politics and policy. Nor has he ever voted in a mayoral election — Bill Bramhall’s cartoon is a comment on that, period, end of story. This is not a racial stereotype or racist caricature.”

Greenman admitted that an online version of the cartoon was altered after complaints.

“After Bill tweeted his cartoon yesterday, people reacted badly to how Yang’s eyes were drawn,” he told the Daily News. “Bill altered the drawing out of sensitivity to those concerns, without changing the concept of the cartoon, which he and we stand by.”

Former “Today” show co-host Ann Curry, whose mother was Japanese, tweeted, “Political cartoons have long been used to otherize Asian Americans as slanty-eyed outsiders. This plays to those same inaccurate stereotypes @NYDailyNews, which in this moment is also potentially dangerous. Apologize and take it down. Man, is it still #AsianHeritageMonth?”

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Remembering George Floyd

People call for a moment of silence on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death on Tuesday in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)

Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of George Floyd being killed by police in Minneapolis. Here is some notable coverage:

From ProPublica to Netflix

Netflix will release a series next month that was inspired by ProPublica’s 2017 oral history “How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico.” That was about the role the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had in setting off a 2011 incident in Mexico that left dozens of people dead or missing. It was co-published with National Geographic. It also was a podcast.

The series, called “Somos,” was adapted by screenwriter and producer James Schamus, who assembled an almost entirely Mexican film crew. It was shot in Mexico and was written and filmed in Spanish.

For more information, Ginger Thompson wrote about it for ProPublica.

Media tidbits

  • Vice News reporters Isobel Yeung, Zach Caldwell, Mahmud Mousa, Jackie Jesko and Tarek Turkey have been awarded the James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism for their coverage of the human rights crisis in Idlib, Syria, during the country’s civil war. Their report, “Battle for Idlib,” was a segment on Vice’s Showtime TV series and is the first time a video entry has won this award.
  • TNT is adding the Great One. Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player who has ever lived, will join TNT as its lead studio analyst when it begins broadcasting the NHL next season. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, who broke the story, says Gretzky will be paid about $3 million a year. Gretzky stepped down as the vice chairman of the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
  • Writing for Poynter’s PolitiFact, Jon Greenberg and Amy Sherman with “What is critical race theory, and why are conservatives blocking it?”
  • The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum weighs in after Belarus arrested an opposition journalist in “Other Regimes Will Hijack Planes Too.”

Hot type

  • A bunch of wild monkeys are living near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (Florida) International Airport. Writing for the Miami New Times, Joshua Ceballos with “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Wild Monkeys in Dania Beach.”
  • A few days old, but worth your time. GQ’s David Alm (and photos from George Grullon) with “The Marathon Men Who Can’t Go Home.”
  • Finally, I’ve never done this before in the two-plus years I’ve been writing this newsletter. I’m going to highlight something in this section for the second day in a row. I do so in case you missed it yesterday and because it is that good. An interactive piece from The New York Times’ Yuliya Parshina-Kottas, Anjali Singhvi, Audra D.S. Burch, Troy Griggs, Mika Gröndahl, Lingdong Huang, Tim Wallace, Jeremy White and Josh Williams: “What the Tulsa Race Massacre Destroyed.”

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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