H. G. “Gerry” Lenfest says he isn’t interested in selling the Philadelphia Daily News, as the date looms for layoffs that will cut its newsroom by a third.
But that doesn’t mean the Newspaper Guild of Philadelphia has given up trying.
On the heels of the layoff announcement, Local 10 of the Newspaper Guild of America had its lawyers send a letter to the owner of Philadelphia Media Network, seeking a price for the beleaguered 6-day-a-week tabloid paper.
Lenfest’s response as of this week, per Philadelphia Media Network spokeswoman Amy Buckman: Not interested.
Still, according to Howard Gensler, the Daily News writer and president of the city Newspaper Guild who responded to Billy Penn‘s inquiries via email this week, they’re trying to figure out what the 45,000-circulation newspaper is worth.
The Daily News, for years, has operated as “an edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.” Former publisher Brian Tierney instituted the change for a few reasons; one, it boosts the Inquirer’s circulation. Two, it lowers the cost of wire services (like the Associated Press, and Reuters).
And then there’s the departments a newspaper needs, but that the Daily News shares with the Inquirer: Like circulation (how you manage the physical printed product, and make sure it gets printed and delivered), advertising (the Daily News does not have a separate ad staff) and its own web site (right now, Daily News stories are produced by the staff of Philly.com, itself about to lose roughly half its editorial staff in the impending layoff).
“ If you factor in those costs, the paper isn’t profitable,” Gensler maintains.
So what might the Guild be willing to pay?
“Using a straight revenue metric, if the entire company is worth $35 million (a reasonable non-Lenfest estimate) and the Daily News provides 6 percent of the company’s revenue, it’s worth maybe $2 million,” says Gensler. “But that’s generous for the reasons stated above.
“The Daily News flag may be worth some money but there are no business-purchasing metrics that work with a purchase like this,” Gensler says. “There hasn’t been one decision made here in a decade whose sole purpose was to benefit the Daily News.”
Disclaimer: Chris Krewson was the executive online editor of The Inquirer from 2007-2010, when it was owned by Brian Tierney. Many friends remain there, as well as at the Daily News and Philly.com.