Philadelphia Media Network


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.

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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.

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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


The nine lives of the Philadelphia Daily News (and why it’ll have a 10th)

“In Philadelphia, reporters wonder whether major layoffs announced last fall don’t presage the folding of the Philadelphia Daily News which, unlike the Inquirer, has been losing money.”

So wrote Matt Cooper in a 1987 story about Knight Ridder. Matter of fact, there was chatter about possibly closing the Daily News even back during my five years at the Inquirer (1977-1982). The buzz has only gotten louder as the newspaper industry has hit hard times over the last decade. It flared again last week with the announcement that the Daily News and Inquirer newsrooms will coordinate coverage as part of their physical merger.

So why is the Daily News virtually the sole survivor among second papers owned by the same company that owns the city’s dominant paper? Read more


Journalists at Philly papers sign statement opposing “censored” coverage as Rendell expresses surprise over reaction

Inquirer | Philadelphia City Paper | Business Insider
Journalists at the Philadelphia papers are speaking out against editorial interference they say has “compromised and censored” coverage of the company’s likely sale to a group of owners led by former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.

Rendell told the Inquirer, “You’d think this was the first time some political people owned a newspaper … People are shocked that we would take over a newspaper and maybe have editorial input.”

Nearly 300 editorial employees of the Inquirer, Daily News and — about 80 percent of the newsroom — are publicly opposing the interference and ask that the new owners commit to editorial independence. That contingent includes two former managing editors of the papers and nine Pulitzer Prize winners. Read more


Inquirer, Daily News to share content, raising questions about future of separate Philly papers

Philadelphia Inquirer | Poynter
In a meeting with their newsrooms Thursday, editors of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News and told journalists that their rivalry would soon turn to cooperation. As the separate, competitive operations merge into one shared physical space, they will also begin to coordinate coverage so there is less duplication of efforts, though the same stories may appear in both publications, reports Mike Armstrong.

“Some writers, such as columnists, editorial writers, and investigative-reporting teams, would remain separate, enabling the papers to retain their distinctive voices, [Inquirer Editor Stan] Wischnowski said. In addition, staffing would be adjusted to provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week breaking-news coverage.

Under the plan, some elements of sports coverage, arts and other features stories, city and suburban reporting, and various editing functions would be coordinated and shared, Wischnowski said.

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