Philly Papers in Peril



Philly newspapersWith a slow start to the week regarding Internet news one can unfortunately almost always find a story about more newspapers having more difficulty. In Philadelphia, one of the largest markets in the country that no one seems to talk about not just one but both local papers are facing Sept. 15 deadlines that could determine their futures.

Usually in a city that can support two papers (which are not that many these days) it’s one or the other that is struggling. Here both of the local news phixtures (get it?) The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News are close to being handed over to creditors unless Brian Tierney can pull a financial rabbit out of his hat. The Wall Street Journal reports

Brian Tierney has spent three years trying to revive Philadelphia’s two struggling newspapers. A judge this month will decide whether his time is up.

On Sept. 15, Mr. Tierney, a former Philadelphia adman, will face off against creditors that are owed $300 million and want to seize ownership of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. Mr. Tierney is trying to remain in charge of the papers — which fell into bankruptcy under his watch — by buying out creditors for pennies on the dollar.

That’s a lot of coin for sure. Tierney headed up a purchase of the papers in 2006 for $515 million but it may be that his timing could not have been worse. Having lost $10 million of his own during this time he is working against the grain to try to keep control of Philly’s newspapers.

While this story has more details and it generally is not looking so good, Tierney has been able to convince investors to put more cash, including those who have already lost money in the venture. It looks like his future as a salesman is secure.

We are now heading into the stretch run of 2009 and the picture for newspapers is not getting better. I haven’t seen much improvement or much hope in this sector. What do you see in your markets? In Raleigh, if the Sunday paper didn’t have coupons you wouldn’t be able to tell it from a weekday edition. There’s no meat on the bone and the likely reason is that there is no advertising to support it.

With News Corps.’ push toward paid online content what do you prognosticator types think the newspaper industry looks like after Labor Day 2010?

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