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The New York Daily News union slammed the vulture hedge fund that owns the 102-year-old newspaper for unsustainable work conditions that have left the remaining staff “hanging by a thread.”
The union, which represents most of the skeleton staff left at the paper, called out Alden Global Capital for causing burned-out workers to “quit in droves,” in a series of tweets Thursday.
“Twelve journalists have resigned from the Daily News over the last three months. That’s about 20% if our newsroom. Staffers are quitting in droves. Our owners — Alden Global Capital — don’t seem to care. New York City should care,” the union tweeted.
The paper is down to “two staff reporters to chase crimes on the street” and the few editors remaining are struggling to put out daily editions, the union said.
“Our sports department has been gutted. We lost our longtime back page editor. Our Metro editor left,” the union wrote. “We were already hanging on by a thread after Alden issued buyouts last year. Now we can barely put out the paper.”
A source close to the situation estimated that staff headcount is in the mid-40-range. Just a year ago, the News had a staff of around 70 despite an exodus of top editors and reporters following Alden’s purchase of the paper from Tribune Publishing.
Andrew Julien, the Alden-installed executive editor, pushed back against the union’s gripes.
“While a number of staffers have recently moved on to outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, ESPN and Fox Sports, we have already filled a number of those openings and are actively recruiting for the others,” Julien told The Post. “Any comments suggesting otherwise from unions trying to negotiate on social media should be taken with a grain of salt.”
In its Twitter rant, the union said readers have noticed the poor quality of the newspaper, sending in letters “begging” them to “not just restore coverage” but “expand” the paper to “better serve New Yorkers.”
The union included screenshots from readers, criticizing the high $3 cover price for the much-thinner newspaper, as well as articles that are filled with typos.
One angry reader wrote: “Each day, there are so many typos because you don’t proofread what your reporters write. The News should have a contest among its readers as to who can find the most typos each day.”
A Daily News insider told The Post that the crux of the problem is that Alden’s “expectations are ridiculous.”
Those demands include “filling the paper with no staff, making reporters take on numerous beats that used to be separate, and relying on freelancers and super young cheap reporters,” the source said.
At one point, one editor was laying out the entire paper seven days a week, the insider added.
“It’s not sustainable and there’s no future for anyone there,” the source said.
The Post reached out to the union for comment.
The paper’s daily print circulation has plummeted to 55,653 — an 18% decline from 2021 — according to the Alliance for Audited Media. At its peak, the tabloid sold 2.4 million papers a day.
Alden acquired the paper — along with Tribune’s other famed titles like the Orlando Sentinel, Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant and Chicago Tribune — in a deal worth $633 million in 2021. The hedge fund owns about 200 newspapers around the country and is infamous for slashing staff and selling off assets like real estate and printing presses.
It has followed a similar playbook at the Daily News, the nation’s first tabloid which was once home to legendary columnists like Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill.
Shortly after taking control, Alden replaced editor in chief Robert York with Julien, the editor and publisher of its sibling publication, the Hartford Courant. Sources told The Post at the time that the changes were cost-saving measures to boost profitability.
The tabloid, which bills itself as New York’s Hometown Newspaper, doesn’t even have a home for its staff after the company gave up its lease in lower Manhattan during the pandemic. It has no plans to find a new space, sources said.
Earlier this year, Alden outsourced the Daily News’ printing operations to the North Jersey Media Group, which prints the Bergen Record, the Herald News of Passaic County and the Daily Record of Morris County.
The union said on Twitter, the newspaper has already left its 15-year-old, state-of-the-art Liberty View facility in Jersey City for the older, non-unionized plant in Woodland Park, NJ.
“Alden emptied out our printing plant in New Jersey, outsourced the work to a plant farther away from the city. They’ll likely sell the former plant — but we don’t expect they’ll reinvest those profits into more journalism New Yorkers desperately need. This is their playbook,” the union wrote.
Julien said he filled some positions in the spring, including an audience director to drive digital strategy and a reporter to focus on pandemic coverage.
“We plan to continue strengthening and sharpening our coverage of the issues New Yorkers care about, be it politics, sports, real estate, their children’s schools or hard-hitting investigations,” Julien said.