Baltimore Sun

Good luck to staffers at the Baltimore Sun as it looks like they may escape the ruthless clutches of New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital, which has inked a $630M deal to acquire the paper’s parent company, Tribune Co.

Known for its voracious cost-cutting, media investor Alden slashes staff at its acquired newspapers to the bare bones.

A NewsGuild study found that Alden cut 71 percent of jobs at the papers that it acquired from 2012 to 2019.

The Sun attracted a last minute white knight in the form of The Sunlight for All Institute, a nonprofit formed by businessman and philanthropist Stewart Bainum, Jr.

The Institute has agreed to buy the Sun, Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Carroll County Times and several Baltimore area weeklies.

Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott hailed the deal as a win for Sun employees and a "more transparent, accountable Baltimore,” while a spokesperson for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wished the Sun “great success as it returns to being locally-owned, and continues to carry out the work of the free press.”

A tip of the hat goes to the “Save Our Sun” campaign organized by the Washington-Baltimore News Guild and NewsGuild-CWA last year to attract a local owner for the 183-year-old paper.

That effort gained the support of Baltimore royalty including film director John Waters, “The Wire” creator David Simon, Orioles greats Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken, author Laura Lippman and architect Janet Marie Smith.

There’s still hope for the Chicago Tribune and New York Daily News as Alden requires a vote by two-thirds of non-Alden affiliated shareholders to clinch the deal.

The Capitol Hill riot has dealt a major blow to America’s effort to promote human rights and democracy overseas, according to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

“There is no doubt that our ability to wave the banner of democracy and human rights to some extent has been tarnished by recent events, especially the egregious attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6,” he told NPR.

Blinken believes it is important for the US to pursue all legal remedies against those who ransacked the Capitol and put the lives of members of Congress in jeopardy.

"We’re not trying to sweep in under the rug,” he said. “We’re confronting it. And sometimes it’s ugly, sometimes it’s painful, but it’s incredibly powerful.”

Blame it on programmatic advertising. Pfizer, developer of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the Centers for Disease Control place ads on websites spouting misinformation about the pandemic, according to a report from NewsGuard.

Kroger and Walmart, which are major distributors of the vaccine, also support the bogus sites.

Media companies dedicated to outing fake news sites also joined the fun as CBS News, NBC and MSNBC placed ads on COVID-19 misinformation sites.

The NewsGuard study found that from Feb. 2020 to the present, 4,315 brands ran more than 42K unique ads on websites flagged for COVID-19 misinformation.

What’s the harm? A London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine report found a drop in patients’ openness to a COVID-19 vaccination after they were exposed to misleading ads.

The NewsGuard study reports that that in most cases ads on misinformation sites were “likely inadvertent, placed by algorithms on programmatic ad-buying platforms.”

Marketers should take a hard look at where their dollars are winding up. That’s the least they can do to support the global effort to beat back the pandemic.