Fourth sale in six years could be end turmoil at Inquirer, Daily News

The newspapers face much more competition for eyeballs than they did just 10 years ago.

Six years after local investors purchased the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News for more than $500 million and vowed a turnaround, the beleaguered papers were sold for $55 million yesterday.

A group of local businessmen led by former New Jersey Nets owner Lewis Katz and Cooper Health System chair George Norcross III will take over Philadelphia Media Network, the parent company of the papers and philly.com, from a collection of hedge funds. The group said it will retain publisher and CEO Greg Osberg and that no additional layoffs are expected.

“We believe that we can, with the various constituencies involved, make this a success,” Norcross said.

Media experts across the country said the sale was a bargain, but that investors will have a hard time reversing years of red ink and declining revenues.

“I certainly wouldn’t put up $55 million to buy the organization today,” said Temple associate professor Chris Harper. “The Philadelphia newspapers talk about the high quality of journalism done by the news organization, but in recent months they’ve laid off dozens of reporters. They forced one reporter to remove a story about the sale, so there’s been censorship. … I don’t think it’s a well-run ship and hasn’t been for some time.”

Poynter Institute media analyst Rick Edmonds said digital news platforms have shaken the industry’s foundations.

“The figures sort of speak for themselves that values have come way down and actually the market for acquisitions has improved some in the last nine months, maybe because the market is so [soft],” he said.

Powerful hands are taking hold

In the wake of a story that was reportedly pulled about the potential sale, the new owners vowed to sign a pledge of non-interference with editorial content.

“This is America. Everybody is entitled to write what they feel is appropriate,” managing partner Lewis Katz said.

“Everything we do is going to have to be as transparent as possible,” Norcross later added.

But Temple associate professor Chris Harper, who worked 20 years as a reporter, said he is skeptical management can remain hands off.

“I don’t see how they can possibly stay out of the editorial product and make things work,” he said.

Name game

In addition to Katz and Norcross, the new ownership group includes:
   
Cable TV magnate H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, who will serve as board chair
     
William Hankowsky, chairman and CEO of Liberty Property Trust and chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
   
Kris Singh, president and CEO of Holtec International, a nuclear energy technology company
   
Joseph Buckelew, chair of Connor Strong and Buckelew.

Turnover and over

Since 2006, the papers and philly.com have been sold four times.
   
June 2006: The McClatchy Co. bought Knight Ridder and put up some of the least-profitable papers for sale.
   
June 2006: Philadelphia Media Holdings, led by Brian Tierney, purchased the entities from McClatchy.
    
October 2010: After the company filed for bankruptcy, a group of lenders purchased the company for $139 million.
    
Yesterday: A group of local businessmen bought the papers from Philadelphia Media Network following secret negotiations.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.