Philly Newspapers' Day of Reckoning

By Randy LoBasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 27, 2010

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After 15 months, the time has finally come. Brian Tierney still doesn’t know who bugged his office (and he’s the only one who cares), but the Inky, Daily News and Philly.com are up for auction, right now!

The stage was set quite perfectly. It was the locals, the debtors and the wildcard (a Canadian company that owns a bunch of stuff, as well as pieces of newspapers in the Great White North) all together at last for a triple-threat match.

An early Inky report showed us, as we’d hoped, the paper’s employees were getting a front seat for their jobs’ potential demise and/or beginning of a career blogging at the Examiner/bidding for jobs editing foreign exchange students’ thesis papers over at Elance. The Inquirer Online Desk wrote at 11:28 a.m., “Inquirer reporters are in place at the law firm’s building at 1585 Broadway awaiting developments. We will report them as they become available.”

Accusations were thrown around up until the time of the 11 a.m. bidding war (and still may, though the doors are shut), with Tierney and others suggesting the debtors intended to fire the entire staff of both the Inky and Daily News – including, God Forbid, the recent Pulitzer winners – and hire back just 51 percent of staff, at least at first. Fred S. Hodara, who represents the villains—senior lenders— called the accusations and testimony of accusations last night “unfair and despicable,” though he wouldn’t deny the charges. Needless to say, the Teamsters weren’t too happy about that.

Then, after allowing former Wild Oats owner Ron Burkle to step out of the deal (he was brought in by Gov. Rendell, whose claim for in-butting is “Pennsylvania jobs”), the Perelmans stepped in as investors alongside locals like Bruce Toll, David Haas, William Graham and the Carpenters’ Union Fund.

Ah, the Perelmans. The 92-year-old billionaire father and 67-year-old billionaire son who already have a plethora of Philly landmarks named for their philanthropic family. We’ve got to trust these dudes' investments – that’s billionaire with a “B” – and Raymond, the senior, thinks the paper is going to “rebound with a stronger national economy,” according to an Inky report.

The bidding is reportedly going a little something like this: In a large conference room in Manhattan owned by the Proskauer Rose law firm, auctioneers McMichael and Mark Thomas are running their mouths in a round-robin style, in which each bidder is given the chance to up the existing high bid with a minimum monetary bid increase of $100,000. After each round, bidders are given 15-20 minute breaks to reconsider, prepare for the next round, go to the bathroom and maybe munch on some Trader Joe’s new fruit jerky.

Like Philadelphia Newspapers’ staff, we’re refreshing our browsers by the minute, waiting for this thing to come to fruition. More details as they’re available. Stay tuned.

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