Articles about "Philadelphia Media Network"


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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?

Maybe the Daily News is a special case, former publisher Brian Tierney told me Friday in a phone interview. It makes business sense in a way hundreds of casualties over the last 40 years did not.

“Every group [acquiring the Philadelphia papers] has their Chief Financial Officer take a look at it,” Tierney said, with the notion that it probably ought to close. But after that look, each of the four owners over the last six years, has found good reason to keep the Daily News open.

“Number one, it makes money,” said Tierney.

“Number two is the fallacy that all these people would read the Inquirer [if the Daily News did close]. No, they would read the Delaware County Daily Times or the New York Post or Metro.”

When he ran a public relations campaign promoting continued local ownership of the Philadelphia papers, Tierney argued that hedge fund bidders would close the Daily News. Two years after taking control, however, the hedge fund group headed by Alden Global Capital and Angelo, Gordon has yet to pull the trigger.

The sports-heavy, working man’s tabloid picks up additional paying readers the Inquirer misses. For advertisers who want to reach an unduplicated 50,000 — and make a package buy in the two papers — that creates extra ad revenue.

I’ve been told that the Daily News has one of the highest percentages of single copy sales to home delivery among American papers. Some advertisers may want to target just that Daily News readership.

Also when the Audit Bureau of Circulations began offering a measure of readers per copy in the mid-2000s, the Daily News was first among 100 or so participating papers — by a lot. The paper gets around.

Besides tabloid zinginess, the Daily News offers some serious journalism — witness its Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting two years ago for an expose of corruption in the Philadelphia police narcotics squad.

I don’t know current editor Larry Platt. But editors I have known — Gil Spencer, Zack Stalberg and Michael Days – have been both highly competent and wily about making the case for the Daily News to top management.

All that said, the Daily News is kind of a 110-year-old among second papers in big cities. The consolidation of morning and evening titles was well under way in the 1970s and pretty well completed by the early 2000s.

I can remember when there was an Atlanta Constitution and an Atlanta Journal in the 1980s, the latter published in the afternoon with a few fresh stories and separate editorial pages that offered different viewpoints.

But in Atlanta, and at most any other hyphenated nameplate you can think of, the papers were not all that different from each other, evening publication was no longer a plus. So the two were simply merged in 2001.

The Daily News moved from an evening to a morning publication a few years ago. In 2009, it became a “branded edition” of the Inquirer. That allows circulation of the two papers to be combined for auditing and sales purposes and puts the Philadelphia papers 15th in the U.S. in daily circulation, with 331,000.

The newsroom consolidation will eliminate the duplication of having two different reporters covering a Phillies game or a City Hall press conference, while maintaining the Daily News’s stable of columnists and commentators.

The move, which eliminates 37 newsroom jobs, is a logical cost saving at a time when the papers and their website are barely profitable and further declines in advertising revenues this year are almost certain. But there is a possible downside. “If they take the voice out of it,” Tierney said, “I don’t know what will happen.”

Meanwhile the Philadelphia Media Network sale drama continues without even a weekend break. Former Governor Ed Rendell told a blogger he met on the street that a group of wealthy and politically connected locals he has formed may not buy the paper after all. A day later he said the group is still in the running, though there may be a second bidder offering more.

So it is an open question who will be deciding the Daily News’s future a year from now or even a month from now.

One more option, short of shuttering the paper, would be to covert it into a re-edited tabloid version of the Inquirer as the Chicago Tribune has done successfully with Red Eye and the Tampa Bay Times with TBT. Those papers are distributed free and defined themselves as they launched, however, a model that might not fit the Daily News.

The anti-Daily News caucus within the company has long argued that the smaller paper diverts resources away from the Inquirer when it too is fighting to hold audience, strengthen digital operations and define a sustainable business model.

That case gains force month by month. My hunch is that the Daily News has a lengthened lease on life, but not an indefinite one. Read more

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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 Philly.com — 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. And now dozens of former staffers have signed on to the statement as well, including four former top editors of the Inquirer and the author of “Black Hawk Down.”

Three journalists are credited with circulating the statement: Craig McCoy, Joseph Tanfani and Wendy Ruderman, who spoke with Philadelphia City Paper about the impetus for it.

“Initially there was a lot of fear and people were very timid. And then when the New York Times thing hit, it was just a free-for-all,” says Wendy Ruderman, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist at the Daily News and petition organizer. “Larry Platt essentially called Osberg a liar, and nothing happened to Larry.”

The Philly journalists’ full statement is below. Read more

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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 Philly.com 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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Gov. Rendell wanted NY Mayor Bloomberg to buy Philly papers

New Yorker
When Ed Rendell was governor of Pennsylvania in 2008, he spent some time traveling around the country with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. At the time, Rendell pitched Bloomberg on buying Philadelphia’s daily newspapers, which were then burdened with debt and soon to declare bankruptcy. Ben McGrath recounts:

“We discussed a few things, and I tried to convince him to come down and buy the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News,” Rendell went on. “I said to him, ‘Mayor, only you can save the newspaper business in this country.’ And of course his staff, they wanted him to buy the New York Times.”

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Raymond Perelman ‘dismayed’ he was ‘excluded’ from bidding on Philly papers

Associated Press | Inquirer | Daily News
Raymond Perelman, who bid two years ago to purchase the Philadelphia daily newspapers, says he was “excluded” from the sale process currently under way, according to information obtained by the Associated Press, which reports:

Perelman urged the company, Philadelphia Media Network, to conduct a fair and open sale of its assets. He said in a letter to the company’s board he was “dismayed” to learn he and others were excluded from the process.

He sent the letter Wednesday, a day after a journalists’ union, the Newspaper Guild, met with managers of the newspapers’ owner to complain that two stories this week about another potential bidder, developer Bart Blatstein, had been censored.

“Nothing is more important to me than continuing the strong tradition of journalistic integrity in our local papers and making sure the Inquirer and Daily News are preserved for the people for generations to come,” Perelman said in his letter, which The Associated Press obtained Thursday.

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WHYY: Philadelphia Media Network killed two stories about potential buyer of company

WHYY’s Newsworks
Dave Davies writes that he has more evidence — a photo of the Inquirer’s budget for the Tuesday paper — that the management of Philadelphia Media Network has quashed news stories about a potential buyer of the company. The Inquirer planned to write about Bart Blatstein’s group after it issued a press release Monday, but “the story was spiked,” according to Davies. On Tuesday, spokesman Mark Block asked that a Daily News blog post about Blatstein’s group be removed and replaced with the company’s statement that it wasn’t negotiating with the buyers. A Daily News story for Wednesday’s paper was also spiked, Davies writes.

What’s really amazing about all this is that it’s hard to imagine how the owners of Philadelphia Media Network would be harmed by some simple, straight-ahead reporting on the Blatstein group.

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Spokesman Mark Block says he asked Philly.com to remove sale story from website

A Philadelphia Daily News reporter’s blog post about a potential buyer for his paper was removed from the company’s news site Tuesday because it was misleading, according to the spokesman who requested it be taken down.

The original story — a portion of which was published on JimRomenesko.com — said that a group of investors calling itself Philly Homegrown Media wanted to buy some or all of Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Daily News, the Inquirer and Philly.com. Within a few hours, that story had been replaced by a short statement that simply said Philadelphia Media wasn’t involved in any discussions with that group.

The move prompted questions like this one from WHYY’s Dave Davies: “Are the owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News muzzling their own journalists to protect their financial interests?”

Mark Block, the company’s vice president for external relations, said by phone Tuesday night that he asked the website to replace the blog post, which he saw as little more than a rewritten press release from the group. In its place, he provided the company’s statement.

“In this scenario, I think I had a responsibility to look at that and say, ‘Wait, let’s get that right,’ ” Block told me. “I don’t think I was stepping on any toes.” Read more

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NY Post: Majority of investors want to sell Philadelphia Media Network

New York Post | Associated Press | David Gambacorta
The Post follows up on its story earlier this week about Philadelphia Media Network going on the auction block, reporting that private equity firms Angelo Gordon and Alden Capital, each of which hold about 30 percent of the company, have hired Evercore Partners to sell the company. One potential bidder, according to the AP, is Raymond Perelman, who tried to buy the Inquirer and the Daily News in 2010 but was outbid. Perelman told the AP that a lot depends on price. “There’s a long drink between ‘interested’ (in the Philadelphia company) and ‘buying it.’ ”

Philadelphia magazine reports that former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell also is interested, which David Gambacorta confirms. “Governor describes the effort to buy the Daily News & Inquirer as a ‘civic venture’ by folks who want the papers to survive,” he tweeted. More details on Gambacorta’s Twitter page and Philadelphia magazine’s website. Read more

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Philly papers start selling $99 Android tablets to subscribers

Philly.com | TechCrunch | Adweek.com
The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com parent is selling 5,000 Arnova 10 G2 tablet computers for as little as $99 to readers who agree to buy two-year subscriptions to three apps developed for the Android tablet. (The tablet is $129 for one-year subscribers.) After a beta-test phase with the first 5,000 tablets, Philadelphia Media Network (PMN) hopes to launch the tablet more widely on “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving. “Our goal is to be the most innovative company in the industry, and today’s announcement is a major step in that direction,” says PMN publisher Gregory Osberg. || Jeff Sonderman: Why subsidizing tablets for newspaper subscribers makes sense. Read more

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