The NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia

Find a way or walk away

October 29, 2013billrossInquirer

What are the workers supposed to do when the infighting of their company’s owners jeopardizes both their company and their careers?

That’s what’s happening at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and, where a group of the region’s wealthiest men have taken their disparate views of the company (Interstate General Media), its role in the community and their personal dislike of each other to a new level of wastefulness – recently filing multiple lawsuits against each other in two jurisdictions.

As both sides dig in, there’s been name-calling, memo-leaking, email reading and more. There have been owner-on-owner accusations of meddling in the newsroom, killing worthy stories and playing up unworthy ones. This behavior has done only one thing, damaged the company’s greatest asset, its credibility.

It can’t continue.

The Newspaper Guild, the company’s largest union, which represents reporters, editors, photographers, graphic artists and layout personnel at the Inquirer, Daily News and as well as IGM staffers in advertising, finance and circulation, has tried to play peacemaker and bring about a quick and inexpensive resolution, but we have been repeatedly rebuffed. With pledges of investment from both the present owners and/or from outsiders we have solicited, the Guild has offered to lead a group to buy out either or both of the warring ownership groups.
Each side has said the same thing: “We’re not selling!”

And so we are at a stalemate, unable to move forward and wasting potentially millions of dollars on legal fees, when the company’s unions as recently as February, gave back more than $20 million in wages and benefits to help turn around this company’s finances.

It’s a disgrace.

If the present ownership group, comprised of six of the area’s biggest movers and shakers, can’t agree to put the interests of our company, our 1,700-person workforce and the region that depends upon our products, ahead of their own egos and personal disputes, we urge them to step back and allow an impartial industry expert to run the operation – or walk away as the same group they were when they purchased the company from its hedge fund owners in a deal that considered no other offers.

Should these owners choose to walk away, the Newspaper Guild will lead a group of interested monied adults with an understanding of journalism, business and Philadelphia to get them out of this investment and bring this painful chapter to a close.

In solidarity,

Bill Ross, Executive Director
Howard Gensler, President
The Executive Board of the Newspaper Guild of Philadelphia