Philadelphia Newspapers and Successfully Emerge From Bankruptcy

Oct 08, 2010, 09:34 ET from The Philadelphia Media Network

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- The Philadelphia Media Network today completed its acquisition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and, enabling the newspapers and web site to formally emerge from federal bankruptcy.

The sale brings a successful close to the arduous 20-month long bankruptcy proceeding, overseen by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Raslavich, which began when former owners Philadelphia Newspapers LLC filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in February 2009 after defaulting on its debt of more than $400 million.

"We are pleased to finally begin operating the newspapers and, and we believe that the company has tremendous potential as we build out our brands in the great city of Philadelphia, the fourth largest media market in the nation," said Publisher and CEO Gregory Osberg.  "We are committed to the long-term growth of the newspapers and the web site, and can't wait to get started.

"We have some of the finest journalists in the world working in Philadelphia, and we will dedicate ourselves to creating compelling content across a variety of platforms that will make it easy, informative and fun for our customers to get relevant regional news and information for their business and personal lives."

Osberg, who grew up in the Philadelphia area and graduated from Conestoga High School in 1975, takes over as Publisher and CEO after a 30-year news career as President and Worldwide Publisher of Newsweek and, as well as various leadership positions at CNET and U.S. News and World Report.  He has been a pioneer at integrating various platforms of content and business operations.

Joining Osberg at the helm is Philadelphia native Robert J. Hall, the highly-respected former publisher of the Inquirer and Daily News, who will serve as Chief Operating Officer.  Over the last five months, Hall played a lead role in successfully negotiating new labor contracts with all 15 of the unions that represent the bulk of the company's 2,200 employees.  Those agreements paved the way for the successful completion of the sale.

Hall commended the company's unions for working cooperatively with management to reach agreements that will provide a foundation for future growth.

"These were difficult negotiations that required sacrifice and tough decisions on all sides, but at the same time they include provisions that preserve jobs and benefits as we work to rebuild the newspapers and the web site," Hall said.

"On behalf of our company and the six million people we serve in the Greater Philadelphia region, I want to thank our unions and all of our employees for working with us to implement a new structure that will help restore financial stability to our company," Osberg said.

Looking to the future, Osberg said that two of his primary objectives are to accelerate content and platform integration, while also deepening the newspapers' commitment to investigative journalism.  To achieve the latter goal, Osberg announced that Inquirer Editor William K. Marimow will return to the newsroom as a principal investigative reporter.  Marimow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, will now devote all of his energies to expanding the newspaper's widely-acclaimed investigative coverage.  In his place, Assistant Managing Editor Stan Wischnowski will serve as Acting Editor of the Inquirer.  Wischnowski, 48, is a 26-year veteran of the news business, having worked for more than a decade at Gannett News Corp. prior to arriving at the Inquirer in 2000.

"We look forward to turning our complete attention to our award-winning journalism," Wischnowski said.  "I sense that there's a pent-up desire in these newsrooms to turn this place into a fully integrated, digital powerhouse, and we are now in a position to make it happen."

Said Osberg: "I'm looking forward to working with Stan and Bill in their new roles, and with everyone throughout the organization as we begin to build the most successful regional media company in the country."  

SOURCE The Philadelphia Media Network