The Saratogian: It’s Not About Being Profitable. It’s Not About Journalism. It’s About Greed.

The Saratogian is owned by 21st Century Media. 21st Century Media is owned by Digital First Media (DFM) . Digital First Media is controlled by Alden Global Capital. A devastating article on a website called The Intercept documents how the chains of newspapers under this group have been cannibalized to squeeze out extraordinary amounts of money.

According to the story, newspapers have traditionally had to make about 8 percent in profits to be viable. DFM has earned an average of 17 percent with some of its papers producing as much as 30 percent. They have achieved these numbers by slashing their news staffs, selling off the most lucrative assets at the papers they have acquired, and outsourcing or consolidating functions like editing and production design to remote locations including to places like India and the Philippines. It is axiomatic that the editors of newspapers should be located in the community that they serve…or it used to be.

In court papers, Alden Global Media has admitted to siphoning off money from many of its newspapers for unrelated acquisitions. These included Payless Shoes and Fred’s Pharmacy (a chain) that have both gone bankrupt.

And try this from the story for something creepy:

At the Denver Post, the company is pushing the envelope even further. In bargaining talks with union leaders this summer, Digital First pushed for the right to use artificial intelligence to cover high school sports. They also hope to allow computers to “gather and publish” municipal government news, including “local news stories from suburban communities, school districts and other governmental districts,” according to a company proposal obtained by The Intercept. Denver Post union official Tony Mulligan said the company has already selected a vendor and budgeted money for the prep sports transition.

For those with the stomach, this is a link to the Intercept story that goes into the gory details of what greed and a contempt for journalism can achieve.

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