The PhillyNews duo are in paroxyms of joy and self-coverage over the news that the local group of businessmen headed by Brian Tierney have finalized a deal to buy the papers (audio of the press conference available here
). The top story included links to a blizzard of other stories and graphics, so I presume that the better part of a section is being given over to the papers' history, current state, and new owners. For the benefit of those with a similar degree of interest, here's what I can find:
- Top story -- $562 million deal for both papers and all associated holdings. Tierney himself has picketed the paper in the past, but all of his investors signed a pledge not to interfere with news coverage (and not to sell their investments for at least 5 years). Also,
Tierney said he would stop his political activities on behalf of the Republican Party. But he will continue to invest in businesses that are sometimes covered in the papers, such as Donald Trump's proposed Northwest Philadelphia casino, and NutriSystem Inc., the Horsham-based diet-meal distributor.The local investors contributed 40% of the total, with large banks making up the rest; whether those corporate groups will share the local folks' focus on long-term health over rising profits will have to be seen. The Daily News was enthused, labeling their new owners Our Kind of People.
- Who are these people? A diverse group of investors in terms of their other involvements, political leanings, etc. [This piece gives bios and amounts invested, where known, for all of the new Board of Directors; shorter take here.] A more detailed profile of Tierney is also given, including a background in challenging how the media covered his prominent clients -- he promises to throw that zealotry behind his onetime adversaries. More Tierney bio here.
- What are they getting? (statistics and other goodies) A timeline history of the Inquirer and Daily News. A graph of circulation levels for each over the last 20 years, and a map of where all local papers are sold. PNI (Philly News Incorporated) is more than just the Inquirer and Daily News, including some neighborhood papers and free publications as well as web content. Fascinating stuff here!
- Reaction by the papers and staff: An Inquirer writer looks back at the paper's history and sees a continuing mission. The Daily News is given a long view as well. Another Inquirer piece portrays the first response as an optimistic sigh of relief, and Daily News employees appear to feel that they escaped the hatchet; their opinion page seconds the cautious optimism.
- What does all this mean? A quick Q & A from the Inquirer -- why, what, who. A separate piece looks more closely at the owner noninterference pledge and the prospects that the newspapers will retain their journalistic independence. (Again, cautious optimism.) Another speculates that this purchase may signal a shift in news ownership from corporate profiteers (expecting constant growth) to local interests with a combination of goals (steady revenue + better papers). The Inquirer editorial page follows this last point by wondering whether local ownership of papers might strengthen the public trust in their reporters and institutions.