San Diego’s daily paper of record, the Union-Tribune, was sold by billionaire owner Patrick Soon-Shiong and his family to MediaNews Group, owned by Alden Global Capital – a company that has come to be feared across the ever-dwindling newspaper landscape. Just 10 minutes after U-T staffers learned of the sale, they received an email notifying them of staff reductions to come, one staffer tweeted. Alden would offer buyouts “in an effort for staff reductions to be voluntary,” the email read. Alden was referred to as a ruthless corporate strip-miner “seemingly intent on destroying local journalism,” by one prominent media critic in 2018. But in a struggling local newspaper environment, it’s hard to tell the difference between strip mining and regular mining.
The veteran courts and criminal justice reporter Greg Moran captured the feeling of many that the paper was an afterthought to the Los Angeles billionaire who owned it. “All we did at the [Union-Tribune] since [Soon-Shiong] bought us is be profitable, executeon a plan to transition to a digital op. Didn’t hemorrhage money like the LAT, didn’t get a boatload of hires. And for that, the richest guy in LA sells us to the biggest chop shop in journalism,” Moran wrote on Twitter.