Conflicting reports over Rendell group buying PMN lead to war of words

The building where the two papers are currently housed, though they announced they will be moving to the former Strawbridge's at 8th and Market streets.
WIKIPEDIA

More than a month of swirling speculation and destabilizing insecurity over the future of Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Daily News and the Inquirer, exploded in a war of words over the weekend between freelance writer and Metro contributor Laura Goldman, former Gov. Ed Rendell and several reporters at the Daily News and the Inquirer. The showdown was prompted by a post on Goldman’s blog claiming that Rendell and his investment group were no longer planning to buy PMN.

Turmoil has been brewing at the publications over the possible sale and alleged censorship of its coverage. The
New York Times detailed the alleged censorship and possible negative
repercussions of Rendell’s investment group buying the company
Wednesday. Philadelphia author Buzz Bissinger wrote an op-ed to the paper the same day decrying Rendell’s possible purchase of PMN as a conflict of interest and comparing Rendell to Randolph Hearst.

Three hundred Daily News and Inquirer employees signed a statement Friday calling on current and future owners to protect the journalistic integrity of the paper, according to Philly.com.

“As the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com
have gone up for sale once again, we watched with dismay as our own
coverage of the process was compromised and censored,” part of the statement read.

According to the article, the sentence referred to the Feb. 4 removal of a paragraph detailing the 2011 financial results of PMN in an online version of an Inquirer article, the refusal to run an Inquirer article about developer Bart Blatstein’s assemblage of a rival investor group in the Feb. 7 edition, and the Feb. 7 Daily News Philly Clout blog post about the same topic that was removed from Philly.com (and replaced by this).

After bumping into Rendell on the street, Goldman wrote on her blog, Naked Philadelphian, Saturday in a post entitled “Rendell Not Buying Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News” that Rendell told her, “I don’t think we will be buying.” She speculated the decision may have been due to negative press, including The New York Times coverage.

An article on the Inquirer’s website disputed the account Saturday, saying that, according to Rendell, he never told Goldman that he didn’t think they would be buying and that he did not realize she was a reporter. He believes negotiations are still ongoing, according to the paper.

Goldman replied with another blog post on Naked Philadelphian yesterday, this one entitled “RIP Philadelphia Inquirer.” She claimed that “the Rendellization of the paper has started,” arguing that Rendell knew she was a reporter and detailing the numerous times she had interviewed and socialized with him over the course of 30 years. The post also took aim at Inquirer reporter John Martin, saying, “He acted as Rendell’s public relations counselor while writing the rebuttal to my piece.”

Politico reported yesterday that, in an interview with Rendell, he said that his reply to Goldman was one he often gave to well-wishers on the street to “tamp down enthusiasm” because he was carrying groceries. “But the report is nowhere near correct. Negotiations are still going on,” he told the blog.

In an email, Goldman replied that Rendell was not carrying groceries and that she asked him what was happening but did not wish him well, as she is against his buying the papers.

A Daily News article today claimed that Rendell is done speaking about the deal in light of the controversy, especially The New York Times report and Goldman’s posts. According to the article, Rendell said, “You’re going to have to waterboard me to get me to say anything.”

He did attempt to clarify the Goldman situation, admitting that his response to her was something like, “Gee, I don’t know. It’s not a sure thing by any means. It probably
won’t happen.”

“That’s
just what I say to ordinary folks when I don’t want to have an extended
conversation about what will happen. It had absolutely no meaning,” Rendell told the paper, maintaining that he did not know that Goldman was a reporter or that his “offhand remark” would be published.

Meanwhile, Daily News writer Will Bunch posted, “An open letter to the next owners of Philadelphia Media Networks” on his
Attytood blog yesterday expressing his own concerns and raising more questions about the Rendell-led bidders’ possible purchase.

In it, he said that what worried him more than
potential political conflicts of interest was the bidders’ lack of
digital savvy and innovative ideas, speculation about plans to kill off the Daily News as a separate paper fueled by the recent merger of some of the two papers’ newsroom functions  and possible reluctance to listen to the readers’ desire for coverage.

“The vibe I get so far from the would-be owners is they want to buy
the Philadelphia papers to keep them the same. That’s noble, but that’s
also not enough. There needs to be a zeal to make them better, to be
agents of radical change,” Bunch said.

He said that, moving forward, the buyers would  need not only progressive plans, but increased transparency at the publications and a mindfulness not to talk down to readers or dictate coverage. “The bottom line is that journalistic bosses trying to control the
community in Philadelphia will fail,” he said. “We will only succeed if the
community supports and empowers us as journalists.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Train selfie star who got kicked in the…

  A 22-year-old Canadian man who posted a video of himself getting kicked in the head by a train conductor is set to cash in…

National

Call of Duty hoaxer blamed for $100K SWAT…

A heavilly-armed SWAT team and an army of police officers stormed a Long Island home fearing a grisly double homicide – only to find it…

National

Minnie Driver tweets naked celebrity snap to 'shut…

Actress Minnie Driver has responded to bitchy critics who sniped about her bikini body by Tweeting a naked picture of herself. The 44-year-old star of…

National

American middle classes no longer world's richest (guess…

America's middle classes are no longer the richest in the world – having been overtaken in the wealth stakes by their Canadian counterparts. For almost…

The Word

Lupita Nyong'o is People's Most Beautiful

Congratulations to Lupita Nyong'o, officially the most beautiful human on the face of planet Earth (2014 season).

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

NBA

Breaking down the Sixers top draft options

With the NBA Playoffs now in full force, there’s only one thing on the mind of Sixers fans at the moment -- the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.

MLB

Metro one-on-one: Q&A with Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere

Charlie Manuel used to say that the Phillies go as Jimmy Rollins goes. Well, Ryne Sandberg might have a new Phillies catalyst, Ben Revere, in his midst.

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon results: American Meb Keflezighi wins…

2014 Boston Marathon results: American Meb Keflezighi wins men's race

Wellbeing

Why you need a facial

What can a facial do for your face that a washcloth and soap can’t?

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.