National media including the New York Times reported Wednesday that Digital First Media, which owns multiple newspaper properties including the Denver Post, will shut down its digital news hub in New York City and is in the process of “readying its newspaper properties for sale.”
According to Ken Doctor in the Nieman Journalism Lab, “The move also signals the fatigue of majority DFM owner Alden Global Capital — and that it is readying its newspaper properties for sale. They’re not yet on the market, but expect regional auctions of DFM properties (with clusters around the Los Angeles area, the Bay Area, New England, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Pennsylvania) — unless Alden can find a single buyer, which is unlikely.
Closing Thunderdome (DFM’s national news hub) is just part of a major north-of-$100-million cost cutting initiative that is putting the best glow on some tough financials. The reason for the sale: Despite CEO John Paton’s aggressive remaking of the company, Alden’s investments in cheap newspaper company shares (“The Demise of Lean Dean Singleton’s Departure and the Rise of Private Equity”) haven’t worked out the way private equity bets are supposed to.
Will the Post find a billionaire angel investor ? Moguls local and national have acquired the Boston Globe (John Henry), the Washington Post (Jeff Bezos) and the Colorado Springs Gazette (Phil Anschutz).
Anschutz might well be interested in Colorado’s flagship newspaper. The Post prints the Gazette, and owning both properties would provide certain synergies. Advertising, professional sports coverage and other functions could be consolidated, with significant financial benefits to the owners.
But how would Denver’s business and political leadership feel about an Anschutz takeover? Editorially, The Post leans leftward, supporting action on climate change, gun control and environmental protection. Yet it rarely strays into the farther shores of liberalism and regularly runs conservative columnists such as Vincent Carroll and Mike Rosen.
The Gazette’s editorial philosophy is enthusiastically conservative, even stridently so. That might not play so well in Denver, but in the past Anschutz has refused to pander to liberal audiences. Anschutz-owned dailies such as the San Francisco Examiner and the Washington Examiner have been, if anything, even more conservative than the Gazette.
If an Anchutz takeover seemed likely, it’s possible that more liberal moguls such as Congressman Jared Polis or philanthropist (and major Democratic donor) Pat Stryker might be interested in bidding, if only to preserve the paper as the voice of moderate Colorado.