John Longo, a professor at Rutgers Business School, said such ownership did not necessarily mean a disregard for journalism.
“Hedge funds are certainly profit-oriented,” Mr. Longo said. “If the business is not profitable, they’ll do what they need to to right-size it.”
He added: “If they look at the assets they are buying, part of their core purpose is to serve their community. If they don’t do a good job serving their community, the profits won’t follow.”
McClatchy’s troubles can be traced to 2006, when it bought its much larger rival, Knight Ridder, then the second-largest newspaper chain in the United States, for $4.5 billion, plus the assumption of $2 billion in debt.
From shortly after the merger to the end of 2018, McClatchy’s work force was cut from more than 15,000 full-time employees to around 3,300, according to public filings. Chatham took a financial interest in McClatchy not long after its financial troubles began.
The McClatchy chairman, Kevin S. McClatchy, the great-great-grandson of its founder, has said the company’s inability to meet its pension obligations tipped it into bankruptcy. The $1.4 billion pension plan, created 75 years ago, was intended to provide money to more than 24,000 current and future retirees.
In a statement, Craig Forman, the McClatchy chief executive, said Chatham would allow the company to continue providing strong news coverage.