“Hedge Fund Buys Paper. Hedge Fund Closes Paper.”

From a New York Times story by Marc Tracy headlined “Hedge Fund Buys Paper. Hedge Fund Closes Paper.”:

The Bowie Blade-News, a 41-year-old weekly newspaper in Bowie, Md., published its final print edition on Thursday, two months after its parent company, Tribune Publishing, was sold to the New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital for $633 million.

A brief, unsigned note to readers at the bottom of Thursday’s front page announced the closing.

“Due to the changing habits of our readers and the shifting demands of our advertisers, The Bowie Blade-News will cease print publication effective immediately,” the note said.

The note added that readers could now find coverage of Bowie and the surrounding area at the website of The Capital Gazette, another Maryland paper acquired by Alden in the Tribune deal.

The Blade-News started in 1980, after the merger of The Bowie Blade and its rival, The Bowie News. The final front page included articles on a Bowie police officer accused of stealing two cameras from a local Best Buy, planned upgrades at the Bowie Golf Club and President Biden’s pick for U.S. attorney in Maryland. As always, the paper’s motto appeared at the top: “Devoted completely to the people of Bowie.”

“It will be missed,” said Una Cooper, the communications manager for Bowie, a city of 58,000 residents halfway between Annapolis and Washington. “As late as 2012, we did a survey of our residents and asked them the first place they got their news, and the majority said, ‘The Blade-News.’”…

The Blade-News was the city’s front porch, said Mike Rauck, the publisher of a local website, Bowie Living. The letters to the editor section was considered can’t-miss, and Bowie residents regularly took photographs of themselves holding copies of the paper when traveling to far-flung locations and sent them to The Blade-News, which published them.

“Sometimes I think about the list of things that the newspaper covered,” Mr. Rauck said. “Not necessarily in a story, but that it checked off — sharing local sports news, seeing little Janie’s name in the paper, pictures of local things.”…

Even before Alden became its owner, The Blade-News endured significant cutbacks.

The austerity measures — which included moving its journalists to the office of The Capital Gazette, its sibling publication in Annapolis — were put into place as more readers chose to get their news online. That shift meant the industry could no longer rely on its traditional source of cash, print advertising.

Over the last 15 years, more than one quarter of newspapers, mostly weeklies like The Blade-News, have gone out of business….Alden and other hedge funds have bought struggling papers, seeing them as undervalued assets that can be made profitable after further cutbacks….

Three years ago, another Blade-News reporter, John McNamara, who worked out of The Capital Gazette’s office, was one of the five people killed in the shooting there. On July 15, Jarrod W. Ramos, a disgruntled reader who had pleaded guilty, was found to have been sane and therefore criminally responsible for the attack.

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