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A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Vultures circling Gannett

Cara Lombardo’s unsettling Sunday night scoop for the WSJ: “A hedge-fund-backed media group known for buying up struggling local papers and cutting costs is planning to make an offer for USA Today publisher Gannett, according to people familiar with the matter.”

The would-be buyer is Digital First Media, which in turn is controlled by Alden Global Capital. The operation already owns dozens of local papers. It is notorious for slash-and-burn tactics. Last year, employees at the Denver Post garnered national support when they rose up against the “vultures” at Alden.

Now Alden, through Digital First Media, is looking to acquire Gannett and its dozens of papers. Digital First will “offer to buy Gannett for $12 a share, they said, which would represent a 23% premium over Friday’s closing price of $9.75,” Lombardo reports. She says Gannett has rebuffed past approaches from the firm…

→ Jim Romenesko tweeted: “Haven’t newspaper employees suffered enough?”

→ Remember, Gannett CEO Robert Dickey is scheduled to retire in May… The CEO search is actively underway…

What’s going to happen next?

Per the WSJ, “Digital First Media wants Gannett to hire bankers to consider a sale, enter into talks with Digital First about a deal, review its strategy before hiring a new CEO and halt acquisitions of digital assets.”