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Being owned by a billionaire is a struggling newsroom's dream. But it can turn into a nightmare

10 Mar, 2021

"It's not a guarantee it's going to work out," said Alexa Philippou, the Courant's UConn women's basketball reporter. "But we don't want to give up. We want to put up a fight and that way, regardless of what happens, we know we worked to try and save this institution that's been such a part of the fabric of Connecticut for longer than the country's even been around."

But a rich owner does not necessarily transform a newsroom into a journalism utopia. They are "not a panacea," multiple people who work in these newsrooms told CNN Business. They do tend to alleviate the pressures that come with being a part of a publicly traded company or a hedge fund seeking high profit margins. But staffers are still at the whims of a super rich and sometimes capricious owner, and they often have to deal with some of the same issues they'd face with different owners. Employees must adapt to strategic shifts, often billed as "restructurings." They watch as their colleagues get laid off, resources dwindle and journalism suffers. And on top of that there's always fear that an owner could suddenly decide their hobby needs to make real money and impose painful measures as a result — or simply get bored and sell the company.

...Philippou, the Courant reporter, said an ideal owner for the Connecticut paper would be someone who wants to "hire staff, invest in the newsroom. People always talk about how the newspaper model is broken. I would hope for an owner who is willing to experiment."

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