*Please excuse any typos and or grammar errors today. I haven’t slept and I’m covered in stripper dust and sin from Wing Bowl.
This is not going to end well for our papers of record.
Late last night, the always reliable NY Post put out a story – their second in five days – detailing what might be the beginning of long, slow, painful death for the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com.
According the Post, Philadelphia Media Network, the parent company for both papers and everyone’s least favorite website, hired an investment banker to help sell the company: [NYPost.com]
Philadelphia Media Network, the owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News, has hired Evercore Partners to find a buyer, said a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
The company has met with at least three interested parties, and suitors are expected to make offers in the next two to four weeks, the source said.
The Post first reported on Jan. 28 that the new owners — specifically Alden, which is run by reclusive Long Island financier Randy Smith — were seeking to sell the papers again for roughly $100 million.
In response to The Post’s report, Philadelphia Media CEO Greg Osberg said, “A single minority owner does not have the right to sell the entire company, only their percentage of ownership.”
This is hardly surprising. On Sunday, the Post reported that a minority owner could sell his stake. And, just the other day, CSN’s The 700 Level reported that Inquirer and Daily News sports staffs would be merged in an effort to better compete with outsiders and to not cannibalize their own products. Translation: They are losing money. Their hokey tablet program was an unmitigated disaster (I’m told they sold through less than half of their 5,000-tablet trial run late last year). And their website, while highly visited, is generally loathed for its usability and design. And autoplay ads. And Bleacher Report.
PMN CEO Greg Osberg sidestepped the issue in a letter to employees. He claims that minority owners – in this case the creditors who took control of the paper through a bankruptcy auction – don’t have the authority to force a sale. But, you know, creditors have a funny way of getting what they want.
I’d argue that it’s not just the company's shoddy business model that is hurting them, but it's also their coverage, at least when it comes to sports. In the last few years, the Inquirer and Daily News have seen Phillies beat writer Jim Salisbury, Flyers beat writer Tim Panaccio, columnist John Gonzalez, and I’m sure a few others I’m not thinking of head to CSN. So, now we’re left with David Murphy’s heightened existence and insanely-out-of-touch-with-your-goddamn-readers articles, like this one from Frank Fitzpatrick in yesterday’s Inquirer:
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia half of my brain suggests that if a downturn is inevitable, we might as well get it over with as quickly as possible. That way we'll get a jump-start on the next Phillies renaissance. And there's nothing more exciting in baseball than a team on the rise, with the possible exception of Ryan Howard making a throw.
It's not that I want the Phillies to slump. But I know they eventually will. So spare me years of anxiety and get on with it.
Yes, he did just suggest that the Phillies should begin to rebuild coming off their best regular season ever. Way to have the pulse of the city, Frank.
Anyway, should another sale of the papers eventually lead to the company's demise – waves hands at advertisers – you should look no further then this site and this one and this one and this one, and all the others in our first-of-its-kind network of local sports blogs that already reaches 250,000 readers per month.
Self-serving posts for the win.