Digital First Media

Last updated
MNG Enterprises, Inc.
Digital First Media
Type Private
Areas served
New York
Key people
Steve Rossi (CEO & President)
Michael Koren (CFO)
Guy Gilmore (EVP, Eastern Region)
Mac Tully (EVP, Central Region)
Sharon Ryan (EVP, Western Region) [1]
Owner Alden Global Capital
Number of employees

MNG Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Digital First Media and MediaNews Group, is a Denver, Colorado-based newspaper publisher owned by Alden Global Capital. The company has been growing its portfolio and as of May 2021, owns over 100 newspapers and 200 assorted other publications. [2]


With its acquisition of Tribune Publishing in late May 2021, Digital First Media became the second-largest owner of newspapers in the United States, as calculated by total number of subscribers. It is second to Gannett. [3]


The MediaNews Group logo, which still appears on print newspapers. Medianewsgroup.png
The MediaNews Group logo, which still appears on print newspapers.

MediaNews Group was founded by Richard Scudder and William Dean Singleton. Both had experience in the American newspaper industry. Scudder ran the Newark (New Jersey) News, a newspaper founded by his grandfather. [4] Singleton had begun his career as a reporter when he was 15, for a small-town Texas newspaper and subsequently became the president of Albritton Communications, a newspaper conglomerate in Texas. [5]

Based in Denver, Colorado, Scudder and Singleton purchased their first newspaper in 1983. They incorporated MediaNews Group in 1985, with Singleton as CEO and Scudder as chairman. [6] The company began to purchase small local newspapers that were undergoing financial troubles. In 1987, the company made its first major acquisition: the Denver Post. Ultimately, it became one of the largest newspaper companies in the United States. It operated 56 daily newspapers in 12 states, with combined daily and Sunday circulation of about 2.4 million and 2.7 million, respectively. [7] [8] The company owned KTVA, a CBS affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska, from March 2000 to October 2012, and radio stations in Texas.

Singleton was a pioneer in "clustering": cutting jobs at individual newspapers and consolidating functions at a hub near a cluster of newspapers. For example, the Alameda Newspaper Group in suburban San Francisco in the mid-1990s had a central newsroom in Pleasanton, California, that did all the copy editing, layout and page makeup for five daily papers. [9] Upon acquiring the diverse group of papers, Singleton consolidated several news sections (such as sports and features) to one local office away from the metropolitan area, having a few reporters do the job of many people.

Singleton soon earned the nickname "Lean Dean" for his slashing of jobs through clustering. His tight-fisted methods were later adopted as the preferred model by Alden Global Capital and other hedge funds that took over near-bankrupt newspaper companies.

In August 2006, Singleton took out around $350 million in loans to purchase four newspapers from McClatchy Company. Among those providing the loan was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. [10] It came out of bankruptcy in March 2010 under the majority ownership of its lenders. [11] The MediaNews creditors then removed Media News president Jody Lodovic and its chairman, William Dean Singleton, was reassigned to the position of "executive chairman of the board." The Singleton-Lodovic appointees to the MediaNews board were replaced by new directors representing the stockholders group led by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund firm which has acquired a large, though not controlling, stake. Several interim executive positions were also filled by people related to Alden or its parent, Smith Management LLC. [12] MediaNews became managed by Journal Register's Digital First Media. [13]

As of 2012, the combined newspapers and online media outlets managed by the company had 66.6 million readers. [14] In 2017, the company was ranked third-largest among the newspaper groups in the country. [15] Alden Global Capital has been accused of "strip mining" its newspaper holdings. [16] [17] [ better source needed ] In October 2017, the company's CEO, Steve Rossi, stepped down from his position. [15] In February 2018, Digital First Media put in a $11.9 million winning bid to purchase the Boston Herald. [18]

In March 2016, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of Freedom Communications and its two major newspapers, the Orange County Register and the Riverside Press-Enterprise to Digital First Media. The papers were integrated into Digital First Media's Los Angeles Newspaper Group, which was renamed the Southern California News Group on the same day. [19] [20]

In November 2018, DFM announced plans to lay off 107 staff from its Colorado Springs, Colorado financial services operations, as it outsources the work to Genpact starting December 28. [21] [22]

In January 2019, Digital First Media acquired 7.5% of Gannett's public stock, [23] and made an unsolicited bid to acquire Gannett for $1.36 billion. On February 4, 2019 Gannett's board "unanimously rejected" the offer, [24] saying "that MNG does not have a realistic plan to acquire Gannett". [25] On February 11, 2019, Gannett issued a press release accusing Digital First Media of engaging in a proxy fight. [26] After a failed attempt to place 3 nominees on Gannett's board of directors through a proxy vote on May 16, 2019, DFM reduced their stake to 4.2%. [27] In August 2019, GateHouse Media ultimately announced its intent to acquire Gannett instead. [28]

On Feb. 5, 2020, MediaNews Group purchased the assets of Red Wing Publishing/Big Fish Works. The sale included the Hutchinson Leader, the Litchfield Independent Review, the International Falls Journal, the Lakeshore Weekly News, the Chanhassen Villager, Chaska Herald, Eden Prairie News, Jordan Independent, Shakopee Valley News, Prior Lake American and the Savage Pacer. [29]

In April 2020, the two of west metro newspapers - The Eden Prairie News and Lakeshore Weekly News bought earlier in 2020 by Digital First Media, announced their closure at the end of April 2020 due to a decline in advertising revenue during the coronavirus outbreak. [30] [31]


Daily newspapers

Listed alphabetically by name, daily newspapers owned by MediaNews include the following: [32]

Weekly newspapers

Some of the weeklies owned by the company: [33]

Former newspapers

Other properties

Other MediaNews properties include:

Former properties

Business approach


MediaNews Group is known as a cost-cutter in the newspaper publishing industry. The company has a reputation for buying smaller daily newspapers in a single area (examples include Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area) and consolidating their operations, including sharing staff writers and printing facilities. Some former employees say that the newspapers are focused on making a profit to the detriment of good journalism. [36]

William Dean Singleton was quick to point out MediaNews' commitment to print journalism but resisted efforts to develop online web sites for his newspapers, believing print would remain the format favored by readers. The Berkshire Eagle editor David E. Scribner, two years after MediaNews bought his newspaper, said the staff realized Singleton had miscalculated the impact of the internet and attributed the downward spiral of his media properties to his short-sightedness. [37]

In recent years similar criticism has been aimed at the new organizational structure under Digital First Media. The Denver Post editorial staff and others have criticized the owners of hedge fund group, Alden Global Capital. Alden has a reputation for cutting costs by reducing the number of journalists working on its newspapers as Singleton had done and March 2018, The Washington Post called Alden "one of the most ruthless of the corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism." [38] [39] Alden has additionally received critical coverage from its editorial staff of the Denver Post and described Alden Global Capital as "vulture capitalists" after multiple staff layoffs. [40]

Pension funds

The company has been criticized for investing its employee pensions in funds managed by its parent company, Alden Global Capital. [41]

2006 antitrust litigation

On July 14, 2006, San Francisco businessman and real estate investor Clint Reilly filed a lawsuit against MediaNews Group and San Francisco Chronicle parent Hearst Communications, alleging that the two companies have been conspiring to control advertising rates, a violation of antitrust laws. In November 2006, Reilly's attorney presented to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston a letter from Hearst senior vice president James Asher to MediaNews President Jody Lodovic that said the two companies agreed to "offer national advertising and internet advertising sales for their San Francisco Bay Area newspapers on a joint basis, and to consolidate the San Francisco Bay Area distribution networks of such newspapers ...." Illston, suggesting she had been misled by the companies when they said they had not been collaborating, issued a 14-page ruling [42] forbidding Hearst and MediaNews from working together on national advertising sales or distribution.

On December 21, 2006, the San Francisco Bay Guardian and nonprofit Media Alliance filed suit to make the details of Reilly's lawsuit—and MediaNews and the Chronicle's response—public. [43] As a result of the filing, many documents in the case were voluntarily disclosed by the defendants. The judge allowed redacted versions of two more documents to be released. She kept 17 others under seal. One of the documents unsealed was the deposition of Hearst's Asher, who says that as of September 2006, his company had recorded cumulative losses of $330 million on its investment in the Chronicle, [44] which it acquired in mid-2000. He said Hearst proposed selling the Chronicle to MediaNews, but MediaNews didn't offer enough money. Asher also said Hearst and MediaNews have discussed working together for years. Although the trial was scheduled to start Monday, April 30, 2007 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, [45] the parties announced Wednesday, April 25, 2007 that a settlement had been reached. [46]

Related Research Articles

Hearst Communications American multinational mass media conglomerate group

Hearst Communications, Inc., often referred to simply as Hearst, is an American multinational mass media and business information conglomerate based in the Hearst Tower in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

<i>San Francisco Chronicle</i> Newspaper serving the San Francisco Bay area

The San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California. It was founded in 1865 as The Daily Dramatic Chronicle by teenage brothers Charles de Young and Michael H. de Young. The paper is owned by the Hearst Corporation, which bought it from the de Young family in 2000. It is the only major daily paper covering the city and county of San Francisco.

Gannett United States newspaper company

Gannett Co., Inc. is an American mass media holding company headquartered in McLean, Virginia, in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. It is the largest U.S. newspaper publisher as measured by total daily circulation.

<i>The Mercury News</i> Daily newspaper published in San Jose, California, US, since 1851

The Mercury News is a morning daily newspaper published in San Jose, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is published by the Bay Area News Group, a subsidiary of Digital First Media. As of March 2013, it was the fifth largest daily newspaper in the United States, with a daily circulation of 611,194. As of 2018, the paper has a circulation of 324,500 daily and 415,200 on Sundays. As of 2021, this further declined. The Bay Area News Group no longer reports its circulation, but rather "readership". For 2021, they reported a "readership" of 312,700 adults daily.

<i>Oakland Tribune</i> California newspaper

The Oakland Tribune is a weekly newspaper published in Oakland, California, by the Bay Area News Group (BANG), a subsidiary of MediaNews Group. From 2010 to 2016, it was published as an edition of the BANG flagship newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News.

Freedom Communications, Inc., was an American media conglomerate that operated daily and weekly newspapers, websites and mobile applications, as well as Coast Magazine and other specialty publications. Headquartered at 625 N. Grand Avenue in Santa Ana, California, it was owned by a private equity firm, 2100 Trust, established in 2010 by investor Aaron Kushner Freedom's flagship newspaper was the Orange County Register, based in Santa Ana.

<i>The Denver Post</i> American daily newspaper in Denver, Colorado

The Denver Post is a daily newspaper and website that has been published in the Denver, Colorado, area since 1892. As of March 2016, it has an average weekday circulation of 134,537 and Sunday circulation of 253,261. In 2016 its website received roughly six million monthly unique visitors generating more than 13 million page views, according to comScore.

The Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 was an Act of the United States Congress, signed by President Richard Nixon, authorizing the formation of joint operating agreements among competing newspaper operations within the same market area. It exempted newspapers from certain provisions of antitrust laws. Its drafters argued that this would allow the survival of multiple daily newspapers in a given urban market where circulation was declining. This exemption stemmed from the observation that the alternative is usually for at least one of the newspapers, generally the one published in the evening, to cease operations altogether.

The Daily Breeze is a 57,000-circulation daily newspaper published in Hermosa Beach, California, United States. It serves the South Bay cities of Los Angeles County. Its slogan is "LAX to LA Harbor".

William Dean Singleton is an American newspaper executive. He is the founder and executive board chairman of MediaNews Group, the fourth-largest newspaper company in the United States in terms of circulation, with 53 daily papers totaling 2.7 million subscriptions daily and 3 million on Sunday. He is also a former chairman of the board of directors of the Associated Press. Additionally, he has been publisher of a number of MediaNews' dailies, including the Denver Post, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Detroit News. He is a cattle rancher, owning several ranches.

<i>East Bay Times</i> California newspaper

The East Bay Times is a daily broadsheet newspaper based in Walnut Creek, California, United States owned by the Bay Area News Group (BANG), as subsidiary of Digital First Media, that serves Contra Costa and Alameda counties, in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. It was founded as the Contra Costa Times, and took its current name in 2016 when it was merged with other sister papers in the East Bay.

Tribune Publishing American publishing company

Tribune Publishing Company is an American newspaper print and online media publishing company incorporated under Delaware's General Corporation Law and based in Chicago, Illinois. The company's portfolio includes the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, The Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel, South Florida's Sun-Sentinel, The Virginian-Pilot, the Hartford Courant, additional titles in Pennsylvania and Virginia, syndication operations, and websites. It also publishes several local newspapers in its metropolitan regions, which are organized in subsidiary groups.

The Trentonian is a daily newspaper serving Trenton, New Jersey, USA, and the surrounding Mercer County community. The paper in 2018 has a daily circulation of slightly more than 11,000 and a Sunday circulation of less than 10,000. As of August 2020, it was ranked tenth in total circulation among newspapers in New Jersey.

Swift Communications Inc. is an American digital marketing and newspaper publishing company based in Carson City, Nevada. Swift's primary markets are resort town tabloid newspapers and websites as well as agricultural publications. Swift Communications has been noted for "being outside of the mainstream" and "drawing national attention inside the industry" for disabling commenting and implementing paywalls on most of its online newspaper's websites. Many of Swift's newspapers are heavily composed of paid advertorial "sponsored content".

<i>Marin Independent Journal</i>

The Marin Independent Journal is the main newspaper of Marin County, California. The paper is owned by California Newspapers Partnership which is in turn mostly owned by MediaNews Group.

The San Francisco Examiner is a newspaper distributed in and around San Francisco, California, and published since 1863.

California Newspapers Partnership is a publisher of more than two dozen daily newspapers and several weekly newspapers in the United States state of California. The partnership is managed as a subsidiary of MediaNews Group, its majority owner. The minority partner is Stephens Media, with roughly a one-quarter ownership stake.

Richard Betts Scudder was an American newspaper pioneer, newspaper publisher, journalist, and co-founder of the MediaNews Group, the second largest newspaper company in the United States. He served as MediaNews' chairman from 1985 until 2009.

Alden Global Capital is a hedge fund based in Manhattan, New York City. It was founded in 2007 by Randall D. Smith. Its managing director is Heath Freeman. By mid-2020, Alden had stakes in roughly two hundred American newspapers. The company added more newspapers to its portfolio in May 2021 when it purchased Tribune Publishing.

<i>The Colorado Sun</i> Online news outlet based in Denver, Colorado, US

The Colorado Sun is an online news outlet based in Denver, Colorado. It launched on September 10, 2018, to provide long-form in depth coverage of news from all around Colorado. It was started with two years of funding from blockchain venture capitalists at Civil and from a Kickstarter campaign. The electronic newspaper is based in Denver but covers news from all of Colorado. It is also an associate member of The Associated Press.


  1. " Leadership" . Retrieved Dec 14, 2016.
  2. Folkenflik, David (May 21, 2021). "'Vulture' Fund Alden Global, Known For Slashing Newsrooms, Buys Tribune Papers". NPR. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  3. Alpert, Lukas (May 21, 2021). "Tribune Says Sale to Alden Wins Approval Amid Confusion Over Key Shareholder's Vote". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  4. Cook, Timothy (15 August 2005). Governing With the News, Second Edition: The News Media as a Political Institution (Studies in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion). University of Chicago Press. ISBN   978-0226115016.
  5. Charles, Rivers. America's Most Influential Editors: The History of the Newspaper Publishers Who Changed American Journalism and Politics.
  6. Hevesi, Dennis (2012-11-15). "Richard B. Scudder, Co-Founder of MediaNews Group, Dies at 99". The New York Times . Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  7. Blurb from the corporate website
  8. MediaNews Group About Page
  9. "ALAMEDA: FIVE NEWSPAPERS PAGINATE 2300 PAGES PER WEEK". The Cole Papers. Feb 6, 1994. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  10. ""Gates Foundation Makes MediaNews Loan", Toronto Star. August 22, 2006.
  11. McCarty, Dawn; Bensinger, Greg (2010-01-22). "Affiliated Media Files for Bankruptcy to Restructure (Update2)". BusinessWeek. Bloomberg. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
  12. Langeveld, Martin (2011-01-20). "The shakeup at MediaNews: Why it could be the leadup to a massive newspaper consolidation". Nieman Journalism Lab. The Nieman Foundation for Journalism (Harvard University). Retrieved 2011-02-22.
  13. Buttry, Steve (2011-09-07). "Journal Register's Digital First Media will manage MediaNews". The Buttry Diary. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  14. Carey, Pete (May 4, 2012). "Digital First Media's chief says newspapers have key advantages in the struggle for readers and advertising". San Jose Mercury News .
  15. 1 2 Doctor, Ken (2017-10-23). "Digital First Media's CEO steps down; what may lie ahead for the company?". TheStreet. Retrieved 2018-02-03.
  16. "Petition | Alden". Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  17. "DFM Workers". DFM Workers. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  18. Chesto, Jon (2018-02-13). "Digital First Media wins bidding for Herald with $12m package". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  19. Hebbard, D.B. (2016-03-21). "Bankruptcy judge approves Digital First Media purchase of Freedom Communications assets". Talking New Media. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  20. Roderick, Kevin (2016-03-21). "Memo: LA News Group now So Cal News Group". LA Observed. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  21. Roberts, Michael (2018-11-01). "How 107 Digital First Media Layoffs Will Impact Denver Post, 96 Sister Papers". Westword. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  22. Heilman, Wayne (2018-10-30). "Owner of The Denver Post laying off 107 at Colorado Springs service center". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved 2018-11-02.
  23. Edwards, Christian. "Digital First Media is reportedly planning to make an offer to buy USA Today publisher Gannett". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  24. "Gannett Comments on MNG Enterprises, Inc.'s Continued Failure to Produce a Financing Commitment". Business Wire . March 20, 2019. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  25. Arbel, Tali. "Gannett rejects $1.36 billion buyout offer from Digital First Media". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  26. Hayes, Dade (2019-02-11). "Gannett Rebuffs Board Maneuver By Digital First Media In Proxy Fight, Blasts Takeover Proposal As "Deficient"". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  27. Tyko, Kelly (May 22, 2019). "Hedge fund-owned MNG reduces stake in Gannett to 4.2%". USA Today . Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  28. Lombardo, Cara; Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. (August 5, 2019). "GateHouse Media Parent to Buy Gannett for $1.4 Billion". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  29. Feb 6th 2020 - 8am, St Paul Pioneer Press |. "MediaNews Group purchases Minnesota newspaper group". West Central Tribune. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  30. "Two hedge fund-owned Twin Cities newspapers to close". Bring Me The News. Retrieved 2020-04-27.
  31. "Eden Prairie announces closures, cancellations due to COVID-19". Hometown Source. Retrieved 2020-04-27.
  32. MediaNews Group. "Daily newspapers". Our newspapers. Denver, Colorado. Archived from the original on 25 May 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  33. MediaNews Group. "Non-daily newspapers". Our newspapers. Denver, Colorado. Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  34. "Colorado Hometown Weekly". Colorado Hometown Weekly.
  36. Menn, Joseph (March 22, 2006). "There Are Two Sides to This Publisher's Story". Los Angeles Times.
  37. Elfland, Mike. "Sentinel & Enterprise Sale Set," Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), January 8, 1997.
  38. Ember, Sydney (12 April 2018). "Colorado Group Pushes to Buy Embattled Denver Post From New York Hedge Fund" . Retrieved 12 April 2018 via
  39. Silber, Tony. "Job on the Line, Denver Post Editor Hears Nothing from Company Owner". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  40. Ember, Sydney (2018-04-07). "Denver Post Rebels Against Its Hedge-Fund Ownership". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  41. O'Connell, Jonathan (2019-04-17). "The hedge fund trying to buy Gannett faces federal probe after investing newspaper workers' pensions in its own funds". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2019-05-17. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
  42. U.S. District Court Order Re: Second Application for Temporary Restraining Order [ permanent dead link ], November 28, 2006.
  43. Williamson, Kate (December 22, 2006). "Weekly, Nonprofit Sue to Open Records". San Francisco Examiner.
  44. Said, Carolyn (February 1, 2007). "Hearst, MediaNews Talks Included Possible Sale of Chronicle". San Francisco Chronicle.
  45. "MediaNews, Hearst Trial Set to Proceed". San Francisco Examiner. February 9, 2007.
  46. Egelko, Bob (2007-04-25). "Hearst, MediaNews Group settle Reilly suit". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-05-30.