Philadelphia Media Network

Philly papers’ owners sue former landlord to get security deposit back
The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News and moved out of the “Tower of Truth” in July. And now they’d like their security deposit back.

Developer Bart Blatstein tried to buy the papers but was spurned by its previous owners. He did, however, manage to buy their building, which he has said might make a fine casino. (Blatstein also floated the idea of starting a competing publication.) Read more


Greg Osberg steps down as CEO of Philadelphia Media Network

Philadelphia Inquirer | | The New York Times
Mike Armstrong reports that Greg Osberg stepped down as CEO and publisher of Philadelphia Media Network on Friday, “less than six weeks after the media company’s purchase by a group of local owners.” Osberg was brought in by a group of hedge funds that bought the company in a bankruptcy auction in 2010. When the company was purchased by a group of local investors a month ago, they said Osberg “will remain at the helm of the company.”

Osberg will stay with the company to work on digital strategies and advertising. Robert J. Hall, the current chief operating officer, will take over as publisher and CEO. He has held the position before, according to Armstrong. Read more

Philadelphia Newspapers Bankruptcy

Osberg remains CEO as local investors buy Philadelphia newspapers

The news that management once sought to squelch is official: Philadelphia Media Network, which owns The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and, has been sold to a group of local investors, who will keep Gregory Osberg on as CEO. The group has said it will sign a pledge supporting the newsroom’s independence, after questions about interference arose over coverage of the sale.

The announcement marks the end of a difficult period in which Philadelphia newspapers struggled to report on their owners. But it doesn’t necessarily portend stability: Reporters got their hands on a memo last week saying that management plans to eliminate 35 more jobs, on top of 45 layoffs and buyouts that occurred earlier this month. Read more


Morning media roundup: Philadelphia layoff plans confirmed, TV reporter triggers censorship of student paper

Today in Philadelphia newspapering: The Daily News’ David Gambacorta snagged a letter of intent from a group of investors hoping to buy Philadelphia Media Network, confirming a WHYY report that management plans to cut 35 more jobs. That’s in addition to 45 layoffs and buyouts earlier this month. The letter also says that George Norcross and Lewis Katz now lead the group. Raymond Perelman is out. H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest doesn’t say whether he’s still in the Norcross-Katz group, but he does say he’s still interested in buying the papers.

“You would never adopt a family to rip it apart,” writes the Daily News’ Will Bunch of the planned cuts.

Update: “A source who has seen the letter of intent, dated March 20th and signed by local businessmen George Norcross and Lewis Katz, puts the purchase price at $60 million,” writes Steve Tawa. Read more

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Sale of Philadelphia papers expected by month’s end, as 45 people leave newsroom

AP | Inquirer | Washington Post

The sale of Philadelphia Media Network could be a done deal by the end of this month, reports the Associated Press. The sale price for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and is between $40 and $70 million, the AP reports. The papers were purchased for $130 million in 2010 by hedge funds that are now selling them once again. When PMN changes hands, the news organization will have its fifth owner in six years. And it will be leaner than ever. This week, 21 Guild members took buyouts, 19 Guild members were laid off and five nonunion employees were laid off (a total of 45 departures), leaving the paper with a newsroom staff of about 350. Read more


Guild plans to fight layoffs of 19 Philadelphia journalists, after 21 take buyouts

Journalists at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and are learning this week whether or not they’ll be laid off. Twenty-one people have accepted the buyout offer, called “voluntary” but “some were under duress — as in management told them, ‘You’re going to be laid off and you can get a bigger payout if you sign,’ ” a Guild official told me. In addition, 19 people have been targeted for layoffs. In a new letter to members, Guild President Dan Gross and Executive Director Bill Ross say they will fight the layoffs.

The letter (in full below) rips into publisher Greg Osberg:

“Perhaps instead of killing stories he didn’t like about the sale of the company and trying to be seen as some sort of digital visionary by holding press conferences at the Academy of Natural Sciences, giving free rent to start-up companies who play ping pong on the 5th floor at 400 N.

Read more

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

Inquirer | Comic Riffs | City Paper
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 Lenfest could not clarify what Rendell’s future role would be. Read more

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Bids for Philadelphia papers are in, with Rendell, Perelman reportedly represented

Inquirer | New York Post
According to reports, at least two bids have now been submitted to purchase Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News and Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell acknowledged to BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith Friday that his group’s bid was in. And Keith J. Kelly and Josh Kosman report that a bid was submitted by Jeffrey Perelman, whose estranged father Raymond was earlier denied the opportunity to bid on the daily papers. The closed process became increasingly controversial as the papers’ publisher, Greg Osberg, prevented his newsrooms’ reporters from covering the sale. Mike Armstrong reports on the possible timeline:

Typically, in an auction-like sale, the seller chooses a preferred bidder, and the two sides enter into an exclusive period of negotiation to hammer out the details of a sale agreement.

Read more

Ed Rendell says he’ll stop talking about Philly newspapers sale, as others speak out

Inquirer | Daily News | WPHT
Former Governor Ed Rendell says he’s done talking to reporters about the possible purchase of Philadelphia’s papers by a group of newsmakers he’s leading. David Gambacorta reports:

“I’m not going to talk to anybody any more. I’m done,” Rendell told the People’s Paper. “You’re going to have to waterboard me to get me to say anything.”

Rendell’s silence didn’t last long. He told the WPHT, a talk radio CBS affiliate, that he did not seek out the Philly papers, he was approached to put together a group to bid on them.

“For me and the people involved in this, this is a case of no good deed goes unpunished. The motive here was a motive to do a good thing for the community, for the region.”

Rendell also said for the first time that he would support an editorial firewall that protects the newsroom from investors’ interference. Read more


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