Inquirer: Rendell relinquishes lead in Philly papers purchase, as his group gets exclusive consideration

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The group of local leaders interested in buying the Philadelphia papers is now being led by H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, who was asked to take over by former governor Ed Rendell, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Raymond Perelman, who was part of a failed bid to purchase the paper in 2010, has reportedly joined the group, while has estranged son Jeffrey Perelman’s bid has been rejected in favor of “an exclusive arrangement” with Rendell’s group, writes Andrew Maykuth. While Rendell has been the public face of the group, there have been conflicting reports about whether he was investing any of his own money in the purchase of Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com. Lenfest could not clarify what Rendell’s future role would be.

“I’m sorry to be so vague,” he told Maykuth, “I’m not trying to avoid you … I’ve not seen any written agreement that specifies all these terms so I’m being cautious about any of this until I see it in writing.”

Rendell and his group have come under increasing fire as publisher Greg Osberg interfered with editorial coverage of the sale. Hundreds of journalists at the papers signed a letter objecting to the interference.

The newsroom is in the process of consolidating and nearing a deadline for a buyout offer which aims to eliminate 37 positions. We’re told by multiple sources that fewer than 10 people have indicated interest in it. One of those people is Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Tony Auth, who announced Wednesday that he would leave the Inquirer after 40 years to join WHYY. Auth tells Michael Cavna, “I saw a path I wanted to follow, this buyout came and it seemed like the right time. This has more to do with what I want to do than [the Inquirer].” Meanwhile, several additional positions have been eliminated in production, according to the City Paper.

Related: How Philly mag columnist “missed the signs” of Greg Osberg “implosion” | Timeline of Philadelphia newspapers sale, with five owners in six years

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  • Anonymous

    It just seems unbelievably, unbelievably selfish that so few veterans – many talented but some tired and burnt out anyway - there would take buyouts to spare the jobs of more recent hires who don’t have pensions and social security and big bank accounts, and a sign that the union presence there is strangling the paper financially, however else it may benefit some employees. How tragic: the paper has to keep laying off anyone under 40 so that it can remain a velvet coffin, styming an entire generation of journos and ensuring that when the last 65-year-old leaves, there will be no one left to turn out the lights.