Rejected Denver Post editorial decries ‘outright censorship’ at Digital First papers

Columbia Journalism Review: On Thursday, Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Chuck Plunkett resigned from his position. According to Plunkett, an executive with Digital First Media—the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain, controlled by the Alden Global Capital hedge fund—declined to approve an editorial Plunkett wrote that was critical of the Post’s owners. Since Plunkett’s resignation, two more senior editors quit, and former Post owner Dean Singleton resigned from his position as chairman.

Plunkett’s editorial decries “outright censorship” at Digital First Media papers and reiterates that Alden should “reinvest in its newsrooms, or release us to better ownership.” The editorial also alleges that DFM “has demanded at some of its papers that any mention of the company or of Alden must be screened by top editors before publication.” Recently, Tony Adamis—an editor at the Kingston Daily-Freeman, a DFM-owned newspaper in New York—told staff in an email that coverage of Digital First Media or Alden Global Capital required “prior approval.” He also wrote, “This directive comes from above”—a reference, Adamis tells CJR, to his own paper’s publisher. A Denver Post reporter tweeted, “This is what we’re dealing with here.” Reached by email, DFM Chief Operating Officer Guy Gilmore said, “No such demand has been made by Digital First Media.” CJR sent additional questions to Gilmore, and will update this story should we receive a response.

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