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. "Nobody wants to stifle news," he said. This change follows pressure from journalists in Philly and coverage in The New York Times and elsewhere about stories being killed or pre-empted by Philadelphia Media Network publisher Greg Osberg.

Others are also speaking freely, including hundreds in the Philadelphia Media Network newsrooms who signed a statement asserting their editorial independence.

Daily News writer Will Bunch says in a letter to the next owner, quite possibly Rendell's group:

"In 2012, it takes more than "civic duty" to own a news organization but a plan for real and rapid change. Quite frankly, what dismayed me the most when I saw the names of interested buyers for the Daily News, Inquirer and Philly.com was not so much what seemed to worry most people -- the potential for political conflicts of interest -- as the lack of true innovators for a digital age."

Here's a selection of other comments:

“To allow The Inquirer and the Daily News to be gobbled up by the very people that should be kept under a newspaper’s microscope is an injustice of the first order." -- Brian Goldman, the Daily Pennsylvanian

"Daily newspaper journalism in Philadelphia isn’t quite dying—but it is being slowly smothered into irrelevance and untrustworthiness. Is there anybody who can save us? Yes. The New York Times. And maybe ESPN." -- Joel Mathis, The Philly Post

"The city is full of journalists, young and old, who've fashioned new perches where they're doing the kind of in-depth work that people used to look to newspapers to do ... please, don't waste too much breath asking the wrong question: What will happen to the ink-on-paper artifact called a newspaper? That one's settled: Newspapers will shrink into a graying niche.

"Your real worry should not be whether newspapers survive. What you should worry about is the future of newsrooms, those buzzing, resourceful dens of collaboration that make everyone who works in them better than they could be alone." -- former Inquirer editorial page editor Chris Satullo

Poynter's Rick Edmonds made the business case for keeping the Philadelphia Daily News alive and separate from the Inquirer. || Timeline: Philadelphia newspapers to have five owners in six years || Related: Journalists at Philly papers sign statement opposing “censored” coverage as Rendell expresses surprise over reaction | Philly sports editors detail how they'll coordinate coverage (The 700 Club) | Inquirer, Daily News to share content, raising questions about future of separate Philly papers | Philly papers to lose 37 positions through buyouts, layoffs


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