To save the Denver Post from its hedge-fund owners, the State of Colorado should seize it
“Readers and staff alike are begging The Denver Post’s double-dealing owners to sell the paper to a responsible local buyer. If they won’t, the state should compel them to.
Even by the grim standards of the many staff and budget cuts forced upon the Denver Post over the last few years, the news that broke Wednesday afternoon was a devastating shock: executives announced plans to cut 30 positions from the newsroom, almost a third of the paper’s remaining staff.
When this latest round of cuts is complete, the number of journalists at the Post will have shrunk from over 200 to less than 50 in just seven years, according to the Denver Newspaper Guild, the union that represents Post employees.
It’s important to understand that the Denver Post isn’t dying; it’s being murdered. Despite consistently posting annual profits in the tens of millions, the paper is being slowly stripped for parts by its owner, the hedge fund Alden Global Capital. More than 200 newspapers owned by Alden subsidiary Digital First Media (DFM) are suffering much the same fate, as they see their budgets cut and assets sold off to fund the firm’s other, riskier investments and the lavish lifestyle of its reclusive founder, Randall D. Smith.
As news of Wednesday’s cuts reverberated around Denver — and, indeed, the entire news industry — many journalists and observers expressed a similar thought: if Alden isn’t interested in growing the Post and other DFM publications as businesses, and instead intends only to loot them for its own benefit, it should sell them immediately.
Nothing in Colorado state law limits the use of eminent domain to real property — i.e., land and buildings — though that is, of course, almost always what it’s used to acquire. As noted by a 2006 article in The Colorado Lawyer, there’s typically “no need to condemn personal property, because most types of personal property are fungible and can be purchased instead of condemned.””
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Woodruff, Chase. 50 States of Blue 15 March 2018.