Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest, left, and businessman Lewis Katz at the closed-door auction they later won on Tuesday, May 27th. AP Photo | Matt Rourke
The Inquirer reports that one of its owners died in a plane crash last night:
Lewis Katz, 72, co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Daily News and Philly.com, died Saturday night in the crash of a private plane at a Massachusetts airfield.Katz’s death was confirmed by Inquirer editor Bill Marimow, who said he learned the news Sunday morning from close associates.
All seven people were killed aboard the private plane that crashed at Hanscom Field and erupted into a fireball, authorities said Sunday.
The Gulfstream IV crashed about 9:40 p.m. Saturday as it was departing for Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey, said Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates the air field.
At a 3 p.m. press conference, National Transportation Safety Board officials said they were still seeking the plane’s black box — most of the plane itself was consumed by the fire, they said. Witnesses reported that the plane, which was carrying four passengers (the rest were crew), never become airborne: There was, however, no reason to suggest that the event was anything but an accident.
Read more »
Attorney Richard Sprague, left, advised Lewis Katz, center, and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest on their bid to control the Inquirer and Daily News.
Now that the Inky ownership battle has been resolved in favor of Lewis Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, the guys we used to refer to as the “minority ownership faction” of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — we’ll just refer to them as the “owners” from now on — we’ve got a few burning questions about the future of the newspapers
•Does anybody know what to do next? Sure doesn’t look like it. As soon as Messrs. Katz and Lenfest presented themselves to the media, reporters questioned them about the future of the papers: Who will be publisher? How to address declining circulation? Will there still be three websites? How to address declining revenue? What’s the plan?
The plan, reporters were told repeatedly, hasn’t been developed yet.
“We have to figure out the future,” Lenfest said. “We’re not there yet.”
Read more »
Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest, left, and businessman Lewis Katz arrive for a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Katz and Lenfest are taking over Philadelphia’s two largest newspapers with an $88 million auction bid. AP Photo | Matt Rourke
Joel Mathis is on the scene of the auction of the Inquirer and Daily News, where it’s just been announced that the group led by Lewis Katz and H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest has emerged victorious with a winning bid of $88 million. We’ll be updating this post throughout the day.
Read more »
Well, I was almost right.
A year-and-a-half ago, I took stock of the then-new ownership of Philly’s major daily newspapers and offered the following declaration: “There are no white knights left. These owners, and this band of journalists, will decide whether the Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com have a real future in this city.”
Today, that band of owners is getting divorced. And as has happened an absurd number of times over the last decade, the papers find themselves at a crossroads. Today, today really is the first day of the rest of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s life.
But I wasn’t entirely wrong. We already know that today’s auction of the papers will result, simply, in a faction of the the current ownership gaining full control. Either the “majority faction” led by George Norcross, or the minority faction composed of Lew Katz and Gerry Lenfest will end up owning the joint lock, stock, and barrel. The cast hasn’t really changed: It’s just losing a few faces.
Which means, once and again, that ahem: These owners and this band of journalists (those who survive the ownership change, anyway) will decide the future of Philadelphia’s most important journalistic institutions. Really, this time.
Read more »
Black & White and Dead All Over, the documentary about the long, slow, sad decline of newspapers, and Philly newspapers specifically, is now available to stream at Amazon Prime. (You can also just rent it for $5 if you don’t have a Prime account.) But we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that today is also the first day you can stream The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, and a bunch of great HBO shows at Amazon Prime. So, you know, your choice. We’re sure you’ll make the right decision.
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.
Read more »
When the news came that legendary sportswriter Gary Smith was retiring from Sports Illustrated, I did what any writer would do: I called my dad.
Before I was born, my father worked as the Eagles beat writer for the Bucks County Courier Times. He covered the team during the Dick Vermeil era, the team’s first taste of success since 1960. So did Smith. I asked my father about him on Monday, and he told me two stories:
- Once, Smith apologized a year later for being unable to attend a party my parents threw.
- In the late 1970s, at an Eagles banquet at the Union League, Gary Smith arrived late — wearing flip flops. “I can still hear them flapping on the spit-shined floors as Smith arrived late amid gasps from the double-breasted,” my dad wrote decades later in the Daily News.
Read more »
Inquirer ownership partners George Norcross (left) and Lewis Katz in court late last year. AP Photos | Matt Rourke
And there you have it. In a ruling issued on Friday, Vice Chancellor Donald F. Parsons of the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware has decreed that the warring partners in Interstate General Media — the company that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com — will have a private auction among themselves to determine who will own the operation going forward. And that it must happen right quick:
… I will order the dissolution of IGM. In addition, I will order IGM to be sold in a private, “English-style” open ascending auction between General American and Intertrust. The minimum bid for the auction shall be set at $77 million in cash. I hereby direct General American and Intertrust promptly to confer and submit a proposed form of order implementing these rulings consistent with the other terms of the proposed private auction that were discussed at the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing and during the final argument on April 24, 2014. I further order that in no event shall the auction for IGM be held later than May 28, 2014; that is, no more than thirty calendar days from, and inclusive of, Tuesday, April 29, 2014.
So, imagine the kind of auction you see on TV: a fast-talking auctioneer and bidders who raise paddles or wink or make little shooting gestures with their hands when they hear a number they like. Now imagine that there are just two guys doing the bidding: George Norcross and Lewis Katz.
Read more »
Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman won the 2010 Pulitzer for a series, called Tainted Justice, in the Daily News. The duo was awarded the prize by the Pulitzer jury “for their resourceful reporting that exposed a rogue police narcotics squad, resulting in an FBI probe and the review of hundreds of criminal cases tainted by the scandal.”
The stories detailed the tales of several Philadelphia convenience store owners who all told the same story: Philadelphia narcotics cops entered their stores, cut the wires to security cameras and stole several thousands of dollars, food and merchandise. Three women said they were sexually assaulted. The stories recently became a book, A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love, that has since been optioned for TV.
The FBI probe and case review appears to be all that will happen as a result of the stories, as federal and local prosecutors declined to charge the five police officers under investigtion. The Inquirer’s Aubrey Whelan and Mike Newall report that, while the police officers face an internal review, they are likely to return to the force. (One has since retired.) Sources told the Inquirer the case suffered from “weak witnesses and a lack of evidence.”
Read more »
In a memo sent to all Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com employees yesterday, publisher Bob Hall announced some new retail for 801 Market Street! He didn’t disclose what, exactly, was coming to the old Strawbridge & Clothier building in Market East, but the Inquirer reports it’s Century 21 — no relation to the real estate company — a discount designer department store with seven locations in New York and New Jersey. Hall told employees at the newspapers and website that they will “be pleased with the flagship retailer that PREIT has secured and will soon announce as our new neighbor in the coming weeks” — oh, and also, they’ll now have to enter the building from Eighth Street.
The memo contains lots of classic corporate speak — the closing of the Market Street lobby, which people who work at 801 Market generally use, is presented as a great opportunity for the company — and also notes that “deconstruction of the space will at times be loud and somewhat messy.” Unfortunately, Hall uses two spaces after a period — argh!
More deatils on the Century 21 announcement at Shoppist.
The full memo follows:
Read more »