NewsGuild-CWA members joined Democratic members of Congress today as they introduced the Stop Wall Street Looting Act, a comprehensive bill to fundamentally reform the private equity industry. The NewsGuild-CWA has been fighting on the front lines as private equity has gutted local news organizations. The bill is sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and in the U.S. House by Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).
Julie Reynolds, a freelance journalist who has spent more than three years investigating Alden Global Capital, which owns Digital First Media, for the NewsGuild-CWA, The Nation, and other news outlets, spoke at the event, sharing how the "vulture" hedge fund has taken over local papers across the country – including the Monterey Herald, where she worked up until 2015 – stripping the papers for parts under its chop-shop approach.
"Under Alden's tenure, layoffs and attrition accelerated at breakneck speed," Reynolds said. "Instead of a story a day, reporters scrambled to crank out two or three because there were fewer and fewer of us. The office supplies vanished and we had to buy our own pens, calendars, and manila folders. The hot water in the bathrooms was turned off. The gutters were never repaired and staff creatively arranged house plants to try to soak up the leaks. Then, as with most newspapers in the Digital First chain, the presses were dismantled and our buildings sold."
She also described how Alden caused towns in the paper's coverage area to become "news deserts," with local corruption scandals going unreported as they closed down local bureaus and made it impossible for journalists to cover the region.
"It's time to make hedge funds and private equity transparent and accountable," Reynolds said. "History will not judge us kindly if one day we wake up to realize we failed to protect our communities' right to know and, in turn, our very democracy."
NewsGuild-CWA members joined Democratic members of Congress today as they introduced the Stop Wall Street Looting Act, a comprehensive bill to fundamentally reform the private equity industry.