Inquirer and Daily News to merge newsrooms, layoffs to hit both papers and Philly.com
Friday is the day companies and the government like to leak their bad news (see story on the demise of Grantland). Also announced today was the news that the Philadelphia Inquirer and the tabloid Daily News will merge their newsrooms. The newspapers, both owned by H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, also co-manage Philly.com.
What follows now is, of course, layoffs – $5 million or more in employee cost reductions.
In an open meeting with our employees today, PMN Publisher Terry Egger gave an update on the state of our business and some of the key components of our strategic plan, with special emphasis on enhancing content, products and delivery methods, and revenue streams. We had a candid discussion about our plans to move toward a more unified newsroom, while also maintaining the individual products (Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com) and keeping an eye on serving audiences where, when and how they want our award-winning news reports.
We touched upon the need to reduce expenses, which unfortunately will mean some lost jobs. We are not unique to this economic reality, as evidenced by similar moves in recent weeks by media companies ranging from ESPN, Twitter and multiple newspaper companies. Out of respect for our employees, and in compliance with our contractual obligations, we are not prepared to release additional details at this time.
The papers have been a newspaper soap opera since being bought by Brian P. Tierney in 2006 from McClatchy (which had picked up the papers as part of its ill-conceived Knight Ridder acquisition). The new owners paid $515 million but the new company created, Philadelphia Newspapers LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2009. An auction then took place in 2010 and – to make a long story short – eventually the papers were bought for $139 million. But the owners were forced to sell that papers again for a measly $55 million in 2012.
“There is no question our industry faces some tough challenges, but the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com have a mission of serving this community with a strong daily news report on all platforms and we will continue to do just that as we maximize the collective power of these award-winning brands,” Egger said at the time of his appointment.
Circulation at the two dailies are about 55 percent of what they were a decade ago.