Plunkett: I stood up for The Denver Post and was forced to resign

Rolling Stone: One month ago, The Denver Post editorial board made news with a package of columns clustered around a tell-it-from-the-mountain screed decrying the degradation of local journalism at the hands of the out-of-state hedge fund and the yes-people that run the newspaper – and dozens of other papers across the country.

I was the editor behind the project, and while I expected to lose my job when I hit publish that Friday afternoon, it took our parent company, Digital First Media (DFM), controlled by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital, until late last week to push me out.

The Denver Post, a 125-year-old city newspaper, came under Alden/DFM rule in 2011, and has been run into the ground ever since. It’s one of dozens of regional publications presently owned by the vulture capitalist fund – practically all of which have seen reductions in staff and resources since the moment they found themselves under the Alden/DFM umbrella. And while the sale of all these papers to the hedge fund was announced as a strategy to position local outlets for the long run, the reality that journalists in the company’s newsrooms have lived and breathed has been something more cynical and sinister.

Over the last several days, I was put in a position where resignation was my only honorable option. This is how it happened.

A month ago, any talk of firing me, taking the contentious editorial package off-line and yanking it from the printing presses quickly ended. Any of those moves would have been too great a public-relations disaster before the overwhelming interest in the pieces and the support they generated around the U.S. and, to my astonishment, the world. On the same morning our Sunday call-out showed up on doorsteps in Denver, The New York Times ran an above-the-fold piece about the fight. As the person who had assigned, edited and contributed to the special edition, the moment was surreal.

Visit Rolling Stone for more.

Subscribe to Our Blog