Pioneer Press union: Paper needs new owner

Union employees at the Pioneer Press paid for an ad in the rival Star Tribune Monday, saying the St. Paul paper needs a new owner.

See the ad in NewsCut

The newspaper is now in the hands of the New York City-based Alden Global Capital. The union for Pioneer Press newsroom employees accuses the hedge fund of cutting staff and otherwise "dismantling" the newspaper to increase profits. Newsroom staffing is down about 60 percent from the 2001 peak.

The Pioneer Press needs an owner who "cares about the community and will be a responsible steward," said union officer Dave Orrick. "An owner who understands the value of the Pioneer Press and also has good business sense would be preferable a million times over to our current ownership."

The union says the Pioneer Press refused to run the ad. The newspaper and Alden Global Capital had no comment.

Alden appears to be prepping dozens of daily newspapers for sale, including the Pioneer Press, according to media analyst Ken Doctor.

"We've seen very heavy cost-cutting of national programs and at specific properties," Doctor said. "We've also seen the for-sale sign put on the real estate of many of the buildings and land under the newspapers."

The Pioneer Press office building and former printing plant are already for sale for a total of about $8 million.

Orrick said the union has seen the Pioneer Press' books during contract talks and the paper is profitable.

"Anybody who would buy the Pioneer Press today would see a business that has plenty of challenges ahead of it but is absolutely a viable business," he said.

Earlier this year, Minnesota billionaire Glen Taylor bought the Star Tribune from a hedge fund that had acquired that newspaper. Asked about buying the Pioneer Press, Taylor said he had no comment.

Previously, Taylor has said he'd probably take a look at the Pioneer Press if the paper were put on the block. But he said before he made an offer he'd need to know the paper's financial condition and the potential for the Twin Cities to continue to support two daily newspapers.