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The BNH Book Review

Published Wednesday Mar 13, 2024

Author Terri Schlichenmeyer of The Bookworm Sez

The BNH Book Review

“Hedged: How Private Investment Funds Helped Destroy American Newspapers and Undermine Democracy” 
By Margot Susca
2024/University of Illinois Press $24.95/232 pages

“What Works in Community News: Media Startups, News Deserts, and the Future of the Fourth Estate” 
By Ellen Clegg and Dan Kennedy
2024/Beacon Press
$29.95/264 pages

The local paper isn’t as staffed as it once was, nor as thick, maybe not even entirely local. And with these two books, you’ll learn why and how the newspaper industry is adapting.

Not so long ago, private investment funds like Fortress Investment Group, Alden Global Capital and Chatham Asset Management began buying up newspapers of all sizes. Twenty billion dollars was spent in 2007 for various firms to acquire newspapers. In the ensuing 11 years, $10 trillion was spent on mergers and acquisitions.

“Hedged” explores how formerly family-owned papers were purchased and closed; newsroom staffs were gutted in layoffs and buyouts; subscriptions fell and local coverage suffered.

In “What Works in Community News,” you’ll see how newspaper staffs have reclaimed local news. You’ll learn of a newspaper that focuses on local immigrants. You’ll see how new journalists are being nurtured and taught in a country-wide service program. Learn about newspapers that exist because of a mix of business sponsors, grants, ads and donations. Read about cooperative ownership, community ownership and a paper that was mostly run by freelancers for a while.

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