Mercury news staffers seek community-minded, local buyers



Dear deep-pocketed, local community benefactor:

In light of published reports that a group of award-winning Bay Area newspapers may be put up for sale, members of the Bay Area Newspaper Guilds are seeking an owner dedicated to journalism and the communities of Silicon Valley, the East Bay and beyond.

The current owner, a hedge fund out of New York City, has presided over a steady decline of the once-proud newspapers amid a challenging time for journalism. All of our papers, most founded more than 100 years ago, operate in the black but benefit little from the revenues they generate. Owner Alden Global Capital has sold off presses, offices and properties, extracting the proceeds. The sale of the San Jose Mercury News site alone – just one of 67 newspaper properties Alden has sold – generated $30.5 million.  Seventy more properties are on the market. Yet staff reductions in San Jose, Walnut Creek, San Mateo, Oakland and elsewhere continue.

Newsroom staffing in the Bay Area News Group has shrunk to one-quarter what it was 14 years ago.

Meanwhile, Bay Area employees have gone six years without a raise and endured cuts in salaries, benefits, vacation and even in basic equipment and materials needed to perform our jobs. Salaries are so low that some long-time reporters, many with advanced degrees, earn less than first-year teachers in Bay Area school districts.

Owner intransigence is responsible for a steady exodus of dedicated journalists. Why does this matter to our communities? Because it’s a loss of institutional knowledge and skill, and it further constricts our ability to provide coverage of our cities and vital issues. A glance at the reduced size and scope of the papers will confirm this.

Journalists of the Bay Area News Group hope that local stewardship will reverse this decline and help realize the full potential of our newspapers. We, who remain committed to our profession and our communities, are making this appeal in coordination with colleagues at other newspapers owned by Alden around the country. We believe that an innovative, forward-thinking buyer would realize the need to invest in the coverage and services – both digital and print – that our readers need and deserve. We sincerely hope that interested investors will step forward and partner with us in helping revive a healthy and robust press.

If you have any information that would be helpful to us, please contact Pacific Media Workers Guild at (415) 421-6833 or

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Copyright © 2014 Pacific Media Workers Guild, All rights reserved.

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