Former Philadelphia Mayor, Pennsylvania Governor, and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Ed Rendell has put together a group to buy the local newspapers. This article in today’s New York Times gives me reason to worry.
The situation in Philadelphia speaks to the vulnerability of regional newspapers. Long operated as functional monopolies with attractive margins,local papers have undergone a nosedive in earnings and advertising revenue. Having ceased to be sure-fire financial investments,these newspapers,the reporters fear,could still be attractive as a tool to advance new owners’ political and business interests.
And then, of course, Buzz Bissinger puts it in perspective in a guest op-ed, also for The Times:
These men want the papers because they crave power and will always crave power. They like to win and they have always liked to win. They can erect the biggest firewall they want between themselves and the papers. It won’t matter. As the owners of The Inquirer and The Daily News and the Web site Philly.com,they will have successfully toppled the last enemy. The newspapers will become their personal Gutenberg press,which effectively means that the one city in the country that needs a newspaper the most will not have one.