Editor’s note: The Newspaper Guild of Philadelphia sent this notice to members today, following yesterday’s offer to speak to Philadelphia Media Network owner H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest. Per a spokesman, Lenfest is not interested in talking about the sale of the Philadelphia Daily News.
Yesterday the Newspaper Guild made a formal offer to Philadelphia Media Network to purchase the Philadelphia Daily News.
That offer was quickly rejected in a brief letter from PMN attorney Larry Weilheimer.
The Guild made the offer for a number of reasons:
1) Our job is to preserve journalism jobs. By taking the Daily News payroll off the company’s books, there would be no need to lay anyone off at the Inquirer or Philly.com. The company would make it’s $6 million number.
2) Our job is to improve journalism. In purchasing the company, owner Gerry Lenfest said his goal was to preserve journalism in the city he loved. You don’t preserve journalism by laying off journalists. You don’t improve journalism by stifling competition for stories. You certainly don’t improve the city.
3) By removing the Daily News from the PMN equation, it would allow the Inquirer and Daily News editors to stop wasting time planning the complicated merging of two very different newsrooms into one homogenized newsroom that will kill everything that made the Daily News what it was and do very little or nothing to help the Inquirer. This is strictly a bean-counter move, not a journalism move.
So if the company entered into a reasonable discussion with the Guild to split off a portion of the company it clearly doesn’t value and is not a significant source of its revenue (under 10 percent), the wealthy, philanthropist owner could save jobs and not have to put anyone out of work during the holiday season, the owner could improve journalism in the city he loves and all the editors and administrators he now employs could go back to planning how to offer readers the best coverage and not have to spend their time figuring out how to mix oil and vinegar.
We’re hoping that by spelling out our goals, PMN will reconsider. At the start of our eight months of bargaining last year, vice president of news operations Stan Wischnowski said he was looking for a win-win. We all see how that turned out. Three months after we reached an agreement, the company’s gutting Philly.com and the Daily News.
Now the Newspaper Guild is offering a win-win. Let’s save the Daily News and let’s save 46 jobs.
(Note to members: The Guild would not use pension or health care funds in this purchase. That would be illegal.)