Who owns the news?

Do you like reading The Philadelphia Inquirer on a Sunday afternoon or browsing Philly.com while sipping your coffee? Perhaps you enjoy a juicy article in the Philadelphia Daily News tabloid. All of these news sources are under the Philadelphia Media Network. PMN is going through many changes this spring, including the search for new investors.

Since Alden Global Capital and Angelo Gordon announced their plans to sell PMN, a number of individuals and organizations have expressed interest. Investment advisory firm Evercore will be managing the sale of the Philadelphia news industry.

Potential bidders include developer Bart Blatstein, former governor Ed Rendell and philanthropist Raymond Perelman. However, PMN spokesman Mark Block stated that the company is not negotiating with Blatstein or his investor group, Philly Hometown Media. If this decision holds, Blatstein’s group may launch a rival news source.

Preparing for this possibility, Blatstein has already purchased the Broad Street building where the Philadelphia Inquirer is now. The Philadelphia Inquirer will relocate to its former location at the Strawbridge and Clothier building on Eighth and Market Street.

The Philadelphia Inquirer went bankrupt in 2010. At that time, Perelman had hopes of acquiring the paper. He did not succeed at the time and is back to bid again.

Rendell, head of the Democratic National Committee, is forming an investor group to facilitate his involvement in the bidding process. However, this presents some issues for PMN. Paul Davies of The Philly Post has expressed concern that, if he becomes owner, Rendell’s very public partisanship could call into question the credibility and objectivity of PMN publications.

A new owner of PMN could change the future of Philadelphia news. And yet, as the crucial bidding negotiations are moving past the first stages, the decision of who will take control is falling into the hands of a short list of power-holders.

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