One month ago The Denver Post’s editorial board published a plea for the paper’s future — calling out its hedge fund owner, Alden Global Capital, and expressing hope for a new owner.
It was an extraordinary SOS message, led by editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett. He knew his job might be at risk.
On Thursday, Plunkett turned in a follow-up editorial, in which he again criticized Alden’s treatment of the paper. The editorial “was rejected within a couple of hours,” Plunkett said.
So he resigned.
“I was being boxed in so that I couldn’t speak,” Plunkett said.
Plunkett’s resignation on Thursday created the latest shockwave at the struggling newspaper.
Readers, local lawmakers, the Denver mayor and Colorado governor have all rallied around the paper in recent weeks. Writers like Plunkett and members of the paper’s union have decried management’s severe cuts to the newsroom staff and declared that the paper deserves a better owner.
Alden Global Capital has consistently ignored CNNMoney’s requests for comment. But through its actions, management has shown its opposition to the organizing effort.
For a short time on Thursday, there was uncertainty about whether the Post would even report on Plunkett’s resignation. Ultimately it did, with a straightforward story on the Post’s website.
“Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo announced Plunkett’s resignation to her staff in an email that did not provide details on his departure,” the story said.
There’s also no word on who will replace Plunkett, or if there will even be a replacement.
In an interview with CNNMoney, Plunkett said he felt pressure to leave the editorial board and return to the newsroom after publicly criticizing Alden’s management practices.
He said “there is active consideration of doing away with the editorial pages throughout the company.”
Plunkett specified that he meant “at all the papers” owned by Digital First Media, the newspaper chain controlled by Alden.
There was a flare-up last week when Dave Krieger, the editorial page editor at the Post’s sister paper the Boulder Daily Camera, sought to publish a similar anti-Alden piece.
The Daily Camera’s publisher vetoed the editorial, so Krieger published it on a blog.
The title: “Private equity owners endanger Daily Camera’s future.”
Krieger pointed out that Alden “has sold certain properties, including the Salt Lake Tribune and Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle, to local investors willing to support these institutions.”
“Groups of potential investors are now discussing possible bids for the Post,” Krieger wrote. “We would like to see similar activity in Boulder before it’s too late.”
Krieger was fired after self-publishing the editorial.
“Actually, the verb the publisher used was ‘terminated,'” Krieger tweeted on April 25, the day he said he was fired. “As a euphemism for fired, it’s actually way worse. I’d much rather be fired than terminated.”