Free the Free Press From Wall Street Plunderers

A two-panel cartoon I recently saw showed a character with a sign saying: “First they came for the reporters.” In the next panel, his sign says: “We don’t know what happened after that.”

It was, of course, a retort to Donald Trump’s ignorant campaign to demonize the news media as “the enemy of the people.” But when it comes to America’s once-proud newspapers, their worst enemy is not Trump — nor is it the rising cost of newsprint or the “free” digital news on websites. Rather, the demise of the real news reporting by our city and regional papers is a product of their profiteering owners. Not the families and companies that built and nurtured true journalism, but the new breed of fast-buck hucksters who’ve scooped up hundreds of America’s newspapers from the bargain bins of media sell-offs.

The buyers are hedge-fund scavengers with names like Digital First and GateHouse. They know nothing about journalism and care less, for they’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast by slashing the journalistic and production staffs of each paper, voiding all employee benefits (from pensions to free coffee in the breakroom), shriveling the paper’s size and news content, selling the presses and other assets, tripling the price of their inferior product — then…

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