Make of this what you will: The media will be shut out of next week’s auction of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.
The “closed” auction will take place between two current factions of ownership — the majority faction led by George Norcross and the minority faction led by Lewis Katz. It was Katz that asked for the auction to be shut off from the prying eyes of, well, his own employees. On Tuesday, the Delaware judge overseeing the auction agreed.
However: The judge also ordered the the identity of the prevailing party and the identity of the prevailing bid should be made public. Since Norcross will open bidding at $77 million, we’ll at least have enough information to know if the Katz group made a bid.
"I'm very disappointed," said Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild. "My members who are the working press are not allowed to attend, but the judge ruled and we have to live with his ruling. At least the judge appeared to split the baby, and ordered the sale price and the winner made public."
In his order dissolving the company, (the judge) states that "all senior level employees, including the publisher and the editor, shall continue in employment with IGM until successful completion of the Auction on the Auction date of May 27, 2014."
That means that Inquirer Publisher Bob Hall and Inquirer Editor Bill Marimow will stay on the job for one more week, until the auction is over.
For the reporters of the Inquirer and Daily News, the future is almost here. Again.