The papers of record in Philadelphia just got a little more stable. Yesterday, Philadelphia Inquirer co-owners HF “Gerry” Lenfest, of the Lenfests, and Lewis Katz won an auction to buy Philly.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Philadelphia Daily News for $88 million, ending a year of “I know you are but what am I” wrangling between a few people over control of the media network.
“Although we declined to submit a higher bid and will not purchase the shares of Interstate General Media owned by Messers. Katz and Lenfest, we are happy for the company’s employees, readers and advertisers that this issue is now resolved. It is time to return the company’s focus to journalism, and away from conflict among its owners,” noted now-former owners George E. Norcross, William P. Hankowsky and Joseph E. Buckelew, in a statement after the decision came down.
The new owners actually admitted they did not expect to win the bid. And, as Lewis Katz who made his fortune in billboards and parking lots noted after the auction was done, “It’s going to be a lot of hard work…We’re not kidding ourselves.”
Troubles making media profitable have hit all publications over the past two decades, and how to best address this riddle has caused strife in newsrooms everywhere. The Communications Workers of America, a union representing 700,000 workers in various industries including broadcast, print, and digital media, says that most of this strife is technology based.
“The Internet,” says CWA, “continues to provide new opportunities and challenges to media and all media workers” and attributes “the disruption for print” to “a much lower revenue stream on the digital side than home delivery of print issues provided” for newspapers.
Basically, how the hell does the media stay ethical, profitable, and relevant with so much free information online? After all, writers, editors, designers, delivery truck drivers, and everyone else needs to, you know, get paid.
Disagreement over how to solve this riddle apparently led to the fracas at IGM. Over the past year, Marimow’s future was uncertain considering he was reinstated by court order as this whole mess played out.
That episode and the subsequent wrangling caused a chain of events that exposed serious fractures between one faction, led by New Jersey powerbroker George E. Norcross III and another, led by Katz and Lenfest. It seems, too, that Marimow will likely stay at the Inquirer now that Norcross took his millions-of-dollars-profit back to Jersey.
Basically, it was a shitshow of immense proportion, evidence of which can be seen in emails leaked to Philadelphia Magazine. The whole mess was one of the most mortifying chapters in Philly media history.
Now, it’s over.
In other news, the news was and is still happening.
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