Oct 20, 2023 - News

Tribune owners pushed papers to run Hamas editorial

Illustration of a megaphone made of newspaper

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Chicago Tribune and 65 other Alden Global Capital-owned papers ran an editorial this week urging the news media to describe Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Why it matters: This is the first time Tribune appears to have been compelled to run an editorial sent down from its corporate leaders since the hedge fund purchased Tribune Publishing in 2021.

  • The decision was made by Alden's MediaNews Group and Tribune Enterprises leadership, not the editorial boards of each individual newspaper. A source confirmed that company ownership was involved in the decision.

State of play: Some newsrooms that are avoiding the term argue it's become too politicized. Others say "terrorist group" accurately describes the group or that avoiding it normalizes Hamas' actions.

Details: The Trib ran the editorial at the bottom of its editorial page on Wednesday, with a line indicating it came from "MediaNews Group/Tribune Publishing" rather than its editorial board.

  • The following day, the paper changed the way it refers to Hamas.
  • The Trib's executive editor didn't respond to an Axios request for comment and its editorial page editor declined to comment.

Meanwhile: Other Alden newspapers, including the Denver Post and New York Daily News, ran the piece online looking as if it were written by their editorial boards.

What they're saying: "I think it was wise for the Tribune to label the editorial as coming from MediaNews Group/Tribune Publishing and not to run it as a straight editorial," former Tribune editorial board member Eric Zorn tells Axios.

  • "It was therefore more like a compulsory op-ed, which is also not a good thing but not as bad as a newspaper having to play ventriloquist dummy for hedge fund kings."

Go deeper: Dozens of Alden-owned newspapers run editorial urging media to call Hamas a terrorist group

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