Newspaper guild offers to buy Philadelphia Daily News to avoid layoffs

The Philadelphia Media Network papers, which include the Daily News, endured layoffs Wednesday.
The Philadelphia Media Network papers, which include the Daily News, endured layoffs Wednesday. (AP photo)

Lawyers representing the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia on Thursday expressed interest in buying the Philadelphia Daily News from its parent company in a gambit to forestall layoffs, a move that was quickly rejected by owner Gerry Lenfest.

The letter, which was hand-delivered this afternoon, urges representatives from Philadelphia Media Network to sell the Daily News to the newspaper guild in lieu of cutting staff:

The guild believes that selling the Daily News to the guild will be a "win-win" for PMN and the guild's members, as it will help mitigate the loss of employment for a substantial number of individuals and it will help PMN shed an asset that, based on the number of layoffs of Daily News employees and other purported statements from PMN personnel, it appears PMN has little interest in.

Although the letter makes no mention of a specific selling price for the paper, it promises the guild will put together enough money to make a "reasonable" offer.

The guild would like to reach out to PMN again, to express its interest in making an offer to acquire the Daily News. The Guild believes that, if the Daily News is offered for sale at a reasonable market price, it will be able to obtain necessary funding to consumate this transaction.

The request was quickly rebuffed by company spokesperson Amy Buckman, who says Philadelphia Media Network intends to keep the tabloid.

"Mr. Lenfest has consistently made it clear he has no interest in selling the Daily News," Buckman said.

The request comes on the heels of a round of layoffs at properties throughout Philadelphia Media Network that hit Philly.com and the Daily News especially hard. The tabloid's reporting and copy editing staff was decimated as its parent company attempts to forage one unified newsroom from three separate ones.

The scope of the layoffs — 46 total — has led the guild to believe that the Philadelphia Media Network is not interested in sustaining the Daily News as a standalone publication with its own editorial voice, said Howard Gensler, president of the Local 10 at the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia. The union's journalists, he says, would make better stewards of the newspaper than executives of Philadelphia Media Network — despite the fact that the company has indicated it intends to continue publishing the Daily News.

"They’re interested in publishing printed pages with Daily News printed on them," Gensler said. "It’s like vodka in a water bottle."

This isn't the first time the guild has attempted to buy the newspaper. Representatives extended an offer amid an ownership battle for the newspaper in 2013, but that request was denied.

Here's the letter:

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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