Monday, February 23, 2009

Newspaper bankruptcies strike close to home

According to the Feb. 23rd issue of The New York Times, the filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection by the Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. is in large part the result of paying too high a price, $562 million, in 2006 for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News.

It quotes Brian Tierney, Publisher of the Inquirer, as stating: "Philadelphia Newspapers' goal is to bring its debt in line with the reality of current economic conditions."

An Associated Press article published in the Intelligencer Journal quotes Tierney as saying "In the last two years, we experienced the rare trifecta of a dramatic decline in revenue, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and a debt structure out of line with current economic realities."

NewsLanc scoffs at Tierney's assertion that "This restructuring is focused solely on our debt, not our operations."

When NewsLanc brought information to the attention of the Inquirer from the first stage of its investigation of the roots of the Convention Center Project, it was told the matter would have merited investigation in the past but was out of the question given the current skeletal news staff due to financial constraints.

The Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. probably does not have a problem of heavy debt since earlier generations of competent management created a thriving enterprise. Yet it too suffers from a loss of revenue due to the current recession and migration of advertisers and customers to the Internet. The editions get thinner and thinner. It is more intent on not "making waves" than ferreting out wrong doings... which in past cases would require a mirror!

The combination of the Intell and New Era on a daily basis in the manner that they are jointly published Saturdays and holidays would seem to be the next logical step. So the question is how long will Publisher Jack Buckwalter fiddle while the Steinman fortune burns?