NEWSWORKS: Are the owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News muzzling their own journalists to protect their financial interests? It sure looked that way if you followed the Daily News‘ PhillyClout blog Tuesday. Here’s what happened: Around mid-day reporter David Gambacorta wrote a post about a group of investors, headed by developer Bart Blatstein, who are interested in buying Philadelphia Media Network, the owners of both papers and Philly.com. That report listed the investors in the group, called Philly Hometown Media, LLC. (Last week it emerged that a different group of investors associated with former Gov. Ed Rendell has expressed interest in acquiring the company). But sometime in the afternoon, the Gambacorta post disappeared, replaced by a new post, attributed to “staff,” which said that “the company is not in discussions with Bart Blatstein or the group calling itself Philly Homegrown Media.” It’s of course common practice in online journalism to update stories as more information becomes available. But I can’t recall a case where a new post scrubs material out of an old one and provides less information than was there before. And, to state the obvious, it’s particularly striking when the material in question concerns the financial interests of the media organization involved. We have the gist of the original post, courtesy of the respected website JimRomenesko.com, which quotes a source as speculating that the current management of PMN favors the Rendell group and not the Blatstein group. MORE
ROMANESKO: An emailer writes: “What about this editing job regarding Rendell’s bid for the paper? The initial version that appeared online Friday night placed the valuation of the paper at $40 million. By Saturday morning that graph was removed both online and in print. But the original version still exists in other papers.” Here’s the paragraph that was taken out of the Inquirer:
Observers of the marketing process say the new owners would be fortunate to receive such a high bid [$100 million]. The company’s representatives have told prospective bidders that Philadelphia Media Network had $4 million last year in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Using traditional standards, a company with that kind of cash flow would be valued at less than $40 million. MORE
Blatstein group’s press release after the jump.