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Taking the Corporate Profits Out of Your News

Hedge funds have quietly bought up, and then decimated, local newspapers across the country. A movement of nonprofit newsrooms is countering corporate news.

Reporters taking notes. (Photo by Portable Antiquities Scheme / CC BY 2.0)

Hedge funds are known for squeezing profits from whatever they buy, leaving the wreckage behind when they move on to the next deal. Lately, they’re shopping for newspapers.

Hedge funds now own more than half of all U.S. newspapers, according to an analysis by the Financial Times in 2021. But a nonprofit alternative is strengthening.

In this episode of the podcast, Next City Executive Director Lucas Grindley talks with Sue Cross, the executive director for the Institute for Nonprofit News, about newsrooms that prioritize public service over profits. Grindley also interviews Wendi Thomas, the founder of MLK50, a nonprofit newsroom she launched in Memphis to serve low-wealth residents left behind by the for-profit news model.

Hedge funds are “extractive,” said Cross. “They're not committing to the coverage of the community and creating news as a community asset, but rather simply pulling profits out.”

“I think a lot of the journalists at for-profit publications want to be serving the public,” said Thomas. “But that's not the business model.” 

Listen to this episode below or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple and Spotify.

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