The massive cuts at the region’s suburban newspapers by hedge-fund-backed companies like Digital First Media are adversely affecting local communities, writes Jeff Blumenthal for the Philadelphia Business Journal.
This has created a vacuum of news coverage at the local level by removing one of the most important checks on political and other power centers.
According to Jeremy Littau, associate professor of journalism at Lehigh University, hedge-fund-backed companies have contributed to the loss of around 20 percent of local newspapers over the last 15 years. This has created a news desert in more than 900 communities nationwide.
“It’s like a full-blown nuclear bomb going off in American politics,” said Littau.
After taking over Digital First six years ago, Alden Global Capital has gutted most of its 50 daily newspapers, including the Pottstown Mercury, Daily Local News, and Delaware County Daily Times.
Then, after drastically reducing staff, the hedge fund turned its attention to real estate, as it closed the Mercury and Daily Local buildings and asked the employees to work remotely.
Read more about local newspapers in the Philadelphia Business Journal here.