Lenfest Bids For Philadelphia’s Newspapers, But as Investment or Charity?

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The sale of Philadelphia’s newspapers has attracted a new potential buyer.

Philanthropist Gerry Lenfest has joined a group of bidders now negotiating exclusively for ownership of Philadelphia Media Network Inc., the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and philly.com web site.

Lenfest is the go-to guy when a Philadelphia institution is in need: museums (related story), schools (related story), even a rusting cruise ship wanting preservation (related story).

So does his entry into the group bidding for Philadelphia Media Network cast the papers as charities in need of a savior?

Lenfest did not respond to requests for comments.  Nor did Ray Perelman, another local philanthropist rumored to be joining the group.

But Rick Edmonds of the Poynter Institute says they would not be the first to be buying a paper as a public service.

“It is becoming more common now, starting with Warren Buffett buying his hometown paper,” Edmonds says.

And Edmonds thinks the attraction of the papers for philanthropists is similar to that of other arts nonprofits: “The key is, we should have a paper as good as our city.”

Edmonds sees no harm in philanthropist-owners, as long as their interests stay separate from the newsroom — something that would be a concern even if the paper were purchased by businessmen hoping to make a profit.

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Comments

One Comment

  1. AshburnStadium says:

    To the two commenting above: The Bulletin came out in November 2004, priced at a quarter. It was much more to the right than the Inky or the Daily News. It didn’t make it because it was TOO conservative.

    1. AshburnStadium says:

      Read that as “below.” The name rights for The Bulletin were bought with the intention of resurrecting that once-great name in Philly, which folded on January 29, 1982.

  2. Lou B says:

    Maybe they can move the paper a little to the right by dumping some of the far left reporters. No woder people aren’t buying this rag.

  3. affordable news says:

    If the Daily News were to be merged into the Inquirer and the price was lowered to a quarter, then maybe it could become profitable, again. Remember, the demographic for newspaper readers is older, and many of them cannot afford a buck!!

  4. Monster69 says:

    Let’s see, purchase by Democratic Party leaders is not a concern, purchase by a philanthropist is? Are they afraid the papers might be forced to become balanced?

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