Monday, February 23, 2009

Philadelphia Newspaper Bankruptcy: What Next

Staff Told Not to Worry. That Means It's Time to Worry

I'm not sure if newspaper owners realize that filing for bankruptcy over the weekend means you'll escape attention.
News of Journal Register going Chapter 11 surfaced on Saturday, while Philadelphia Newspapers pulled the bankruptcy trigger late last night.
We're going to find out about it sooner or later (most likely sooner), so running to court over the weekend looks a little churlish if nothing else. It's as if there's something to hide. And the sorry state of the newspaper business is hardly a secret.
PNI CEO Brian Tierney was quick to mention this was done solely so the company could restructure its $390 million debt. The bankers were playing hard ball -- and wisely so -- so Tierney was left with little choice but to file.
Tierney says operations are profitable. Presumably, that means staff wouldn't be asked to help bail out the company any more than they already have with layoffs, buyouts and givebacks. That's comforting to hear, but Tierney and his partners have clearly shown they're in way over their heads, having bought the Philly papers for $562 million in 2006 just when the business model for newspapers was being blown to smithereens.
Whether they stay or a new owner assumes the reins, simply getting the banks to ease up likely won't be enough to keep the beancounters in wolves' clothing from clawing at the newsroom doors.
Restructuring debt ultimately comes at a price. Let's hope it's not too steep for those who remain at the Inquirer and Daily News to pay.


Ryan said...

This is a product of a natural progression. It is unfortunate for all of these papers to go out of business, but if their workers can embrace change instead of fear it, they will be fine. There are plenty of opportunities out there for people who search for them.


Vox Populi said...


The carmakers are not protected or even mentioned in the Constitution but the FREE PRESS is protected BY the Constitution.
Please help me ask Obama why we are not bailing out the free press.