Newspaper employees wonder who will cover their plight

Reporters at the Pioneer Press and other newspapers owned by Digital First Media and its hedge fund bankroll have only Twitter left to tell the story of how the local papers are being run into the ground while the corporate owners reap huge profits.

Newspapers are notoriously bad at covering themselves and the destruction of the local paper is only the latest example.

But it’s happening despite the rebellion at the company’s flagship, the Denver Post.

It published an editorial lamenting what’s happening to the free press. But since then, Digital First is sending word to all of it newspapers: thou shalt not speak ill of Digital First Media.

“The stakes are too important,” Chuck Plunkett writes in Rolling Stone. He lost his job as editorial page editor last week. “Now that we’ve placed the vultures on notice, let’s keep them there until we win.”

That Plunkett is fighting a losing battle is only because his point is being proven. It takes a strong local newspaper to effect change and shine a light on community evil.

On Tuesday, representatives of the Pioneer Press and other DFM newspapers attempted to drop petitions at door of the hedge fund, Alden Capital in New York City. They were thrown out.

The strategy newspaper reporters and editors are using in Denver isn’t being embraced by colleagues at the Pioneer Press.

“Our goal in the end is to keep the Pioneer Press viable, to keep it alive for the people of St. Paul and the east metro,” Pioneer Press newspaper union boss Dave Orrick told MPR News host Cathy Wurzer Wednesday. “We are focused on quiet conversations with people who could buy us. A little less on the shaming side.”

That appears to reveal a split among reporters and editors at the company on how to get coverage and put pressure on the hedge fund.

Writing in “The Nation,” Julie Reynolds called on Digital First editors and reporters to act.

“It’s time for Digital First editors and publishers to be transparent about who owns their newspapers and what those owners have been doing to destroy their trust,” she said. “It’s time to be honest with the public and stop hiding the truth.”

Without a functioning newspaper, the truth is hard to find.