NEW YORK TIMES ASKS: WTF Is Up With The People Running The Inquirer/Daily News?

NEW YORK TIMES: The new owners installed Mr. Osberg, who had been the president and publisher of Newsweek magazine, but the financial picture has continued to decline. According to sales documents obtained by The New York Times — marked as “highly confidential” — the company had a 13.9 percent drop in advertising revenues last year and earnings were less than $5 million. On Wednesday, the company announced a round of buyouts and potential layoffs that will eliminate 37 positions. MORE

MEDIAWIRE: Philadelphia Media Network executives announced at a meeting with Guild leaders today that they will reduce the newsrooms of the Inquirer, Daily News and by 37 positions. The company will offer buyouts first, and then begin layoffs if necessary. The three separate newsrooms are expected to merge when they move into their new location, scheduled for June.MORE

RELATED: Meanwhile, other legitimate bids for the newspapers have been blocked. Three weeks ago the billionaire investor Ronald O. Perelman approached Angelo Gordon and said his father, Raymond G. Perelman, a Philadelphia philanthropist, wanted to buy the company. “They said, ‘Well, we’re not interested in selling it to your father,’ but they didn’t give a reason,” Raymond Perelman said. A spokesman for Angelo Gordon declined to comment. Bart Blatstein, the local real estate developer who owns The Inquirer’s current building, said Mr. Osberg and Evercore Partners, the investment bank handling the sale, rebuffed his offers. “It doesn’t make sense,” Mr. Blatstein said, explaining that an open auction would drive up the price. “If you’re selling a house, you’d put a sign on the lawn and let everyone know it’s for sale.” MORE

RELATED: Among the interested buyers is a group including former Pennsylvania governor and former Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell. Now, if Rendell were the only one in the bid group who’d present clear and strong conflicts of interest as a newspaper owner, the journopolice might just sign off on the deal. Yet his alliance includes big-time Jersey tycoon Lewis Katz; Edward M. Snider, chairman of Comcast Spectacor, the company that owns the Philadelphia Flyers and other concerns that a regional newspaper might want to cover; William P. Hankowsky, a top executive of Liberty Property Trust, a $5.9 billion real estate investment trust; George E. Norcross III, a prominent figure in New Jersey Democratic politics as well insurance and health-care circles; and Krishna Singh, another prominent business executive. How could the reporters at these Philadelphia papers cover anything aside from Halloween without crossing this ownership group? How could the papers avoid becoming a factory line of conflict-of-interest disclosures? […] Following the Blatstein disgrace, the attention of Inquirer reporters — current and former — has turned to a logical question. What else is being suppressed or meddled with? Suspicions alighted on a project of reporter James Osborne — a story about one of the business entities connected to Norcross. The story has been in the works for months yet hasn’t seen daylight. Could it be more ownership shenanigans? MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Who’s Trying To Buy The Inquirer/Daily News & Why Can’t We Read About It On

PREVIOUSLY: When The Cover-Up Is Worse Than The Crime

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