A Colorado civic group is spearheading an effort to buy the Denver Post, which on Sunday excoriated its owner, a New York hedge fund, in its opinion section by saying "Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom."
The group, Together For Colorado Springs, said it had begun contacting potential investors in the state, who have so far pledged $10 million to the effort.
"We believe that the Denver Post is vital for Colorado," John Weiss, chairman of Together for Colorado Springs and founder of the Colorado Springs Independent, a weekly newspaper, said in an interview. "It should be owned by people in Denver but it should also be owned by people statewide because it's a statewide paper, not just a Denver paper."
The initiative follows a revolt at the Post that grew out of years of dissatisfaction with the paper's owner, Alden Global Capital, which has cut costs and significantly shrunk the newsroom staff. Last month, the hedge fund ordered 30 jobs trimmed from a newsgathering operation that already had fewer than 100 journalists.
Weiss said several wealthy Coloradans had emerged as potential investors, including Perry Sanders, a hotel owner, and John Street, a technology entrepreneur. It was unclear how much money would be needed to buy the newspaper or whether Alden Global Capital would consider selling it.
The Post, which covers a metropolitan area of roughly 3 million residents in a state of nearly 6 million, has a weekday circulation of about 170,000 and about 8.6 million unique monthly visitors to its website.
In a statement Thursday, Sanders and his business partner, John Goede, said they were "committed to helping facilitate the purchase of The Denver Post to ensure open-minded, journalist-driven print and digital news for decades to come."
Representatives for Alden Global Capital and a subsidiary that runs the Post, Digital First Media, did not respond to requests for comment.
The effort in Colorado comes amid a broader reckoning over the ownership of local newspapers, whose financial problems — many have struggled to offset steep declines in print advertising and circulation revenue — have prompted questions about whether they might be better off operating under local control than as part of large media companies.
A recent newsroom rebellion at the Los Angeles Times, for instance, helped induce its owner, Tronc, which is based in Chicago, to sell the paper to Patrick Soon-Shiong, a local doctor and billionaire.
(The Star Tribune is owned by Mankato billionaire Glen Taylor, who also owns the Timberwolves and the Lynx.)
The other papers Alden Global Capital runs through Digital First Media include the Pioneer Press; the Boston Herald; the Mercury News of San Jose, Calif.; the East Bay Times; and the Orange County Register.
The Post garnered widespread attention and support with its public denunciation of Alden executives as "vulture capitalists," and an editorial saying that "If Alden isn't willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will."