The Inquirer’s Parent Company Gets $1M to Fund Investigative Journalism, Diversity Efforts

lenfest

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News newspapers sit on display on a newsstand in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The recently established Lenfest Institute for Journalism has announced the recipients of its first set of grant awards.

The nonprofit will distribute $2 million in funding to support diversity, innovation, and sustainability among journalism platforms and entrepreneurs in Philly, New York, California, Austin, and Cambridge, Mass. Half the money will benefit the institute-owned Philadelphia Media Network, parent company of the Inquirer, Philly.com and Daily News.

“We’re really trying to help build a renaissance of journalism across the ecosystem, not only PMN,” said Jim Friedlich, executive director of the Lenfest Institute. “We think there’s a digital news renaissance happening in Philadelphia, and we want to be very much a part of it.” Read more »

Inquirer Sparks Outrage With “Sexy” Melania Trump Article

A screenshot of the Inquirer's Sunday night tweet about Melania Trump.

A screenshot of the Inquirer’s Sunday night tweet about Melania Trump.

On Sunday evening, as tens of thousands of Philadelphia women were just starting to recover from Saturday marches of solidarity against Donald Trump, the Inquirer unleashed a tweet promoting an article all about the appearance of Melania Trump. “Is @FLOTUS Trump the first sexy first lady?” the Inquirer asked in the tweet. Well, Twitter sure did respond. Read more »

Inquirer, Daily News Hiking Newsstand Prices to $1.50

inquirer daily news newspapers

Philadelphia Media Network — the parent company of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com — will be raising the price of weekday single issues of both papers from $1.00 to $1.50 beginning May 23rd.

“Our pricing reflects the value associated with our products,” said a PMN spokeswoman in statement.  Read more »

What They’re Saying About the Inky’s New Non-Profit Ownership

inquirer daily news newspapers

As expected, the news industry is taking notice of Gerry Lenfest’s decision to transfer ownership of Philly’s major newspapers — the Inquirer and Daily News, along with Philly.com — to a newly created non-profit institute.

After years of declining revenues and staff cuts, newspapers around the country want to see if Lenfest has hit upon the answer — finally — to guaranteeing the future of large-scale community news coverage. The verdict? There seem to be as many questions as answers.

Here’s what they’re saying: Read more »

10 Burning Questions About the Inquirer‘s New Nonprofit Ownership

Gerry Lenfest enters Tuesday's ownership announcement at the National Constitution Center | Joel Mathis for Philly Mag.

Gerry Lenfest enters Tuesday’s ownership announcement at the National Constitution Center. Photo | Joel Mathis

Three themes emerged from Tuesday morning’s formal announcement that Philadelphia Media Network — owner of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — is being placed under the ownership of a new non-profit institute.

First: The new ownership structure will halt the revolving-door ownership that has afflicted the company with five different ownership groups over the last decade or so. That, in turn, should provide stability for a news organization that has been mired in chaos and, at times, bankruptcy during that time.

“It is, I think, a perfect combination for the future of journalism in Philadelphia,” said Gerry Lenfest, who created the nonprofit — the Institute for Journalism in New Media (IJNM) — and “donated” the papers to it.

Second: The non-profit structure will make it easier for the papers to seek financial sustainability by attracting grant funding to help pay for their journalism.

And third: There’s still a lot of work to be done to figure out how to make large-scale journalism pay for itself in the 21st century. Today’s announcement doesn’t preclude the possibility that there could be layoffs at the papers later this year if advertising revenues continue to decline.

In the short term, PMN publisher Terry Egger said, the new ownership structure “doesn’t solve our problems.” Richard Fox, the Dilworth Paxson attorney who oversaw the arrangements, added: “This is not a short-term measure. It’s a long-term measure.”

So what does the new ownership structure do? We’ll try to answer the biggest questions raised by this situation based on public documents and discussions with various officials involved in the transaction, including Egger and Fox. Read more »

Lenfest “Donates” Philly Newspapers to New Nonprofit Media Foundation

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News newspapers sit on display on a newsstand in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News newspapers sit on display on a newsstand in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Gerry Lenfest has created a nonprofit foundation to own Philadelphia Media Network — the company that owns the Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com — and endowed the new institute with $20 million as it oversees the newspapers’ continued operation.

The move places the papers under the auspices of the Philadelphia Foundation, transforming the biggest news operation in America’s fifth-largest city into an unprecedented experiment in preserving large-scale newsgathering in the fast-changing — and fast-diminishing — newspaper industry.

The news was first reported Monday night at Philly.com. A formal announcement will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the National Constitution Center.

“I think it’s unprecedented for a big American newspaper to be turned into a nonprofit,” Rosental C. Alves, Director of Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, told Philly Mag late Monday night. Read more »

“Gerry the Grinch” Website Receives Cease-and-Desist Letter

gerry lenfest parody site

It would appear the fake Gerry Lenfest has the real Gerry Lenfest’s attention.

In the aftermath of the layoffs at Philadelphia Media Network — which owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com — an anonymous critic created the “Gerry the Grinch” Twitter account, and posted longer-form missives at GerryLenfest.com, both criticizing (and sometimes pleading with) Lenfest for the job reductions. Now a lawyer from PMN has sent the site’s owner a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that website’s domain name be transferred to the ownership of Lenfest himself.

The letter was posted Thursday afternoon at the Twitter account.

Read more »

WATCH: Mayor Nutter Joins Inky Staff for Air Guitar Video

Here’s the Inquirer staff — joined by an incredibly game Mayor Nutter — playing air guitar to a classic ZZ Top song.

The video is part of the Rock Out Brain Tumors Challenge to raise money and awareness for brain tumors. You can make donations to the National Brain Tumor Society here. The Daily News started the wave of air guitar videos last week, when it made its own to honor Gar Joseph, the paper’s city editor who is being treated for such tumors. Read more »

Mike Dunn on the Empty Desks in City Hall’s Pressroom

An old news clipping — provenance is unknown — about City Hall's once robust and now-depleted press corps. | Clipping courtesy of Mike Dunn.

An old news clipping — provenance is unknown — about City Hall’s once robust and now-depleted press corps. | Clipping courtesy of Mike Dunn.

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from former KYW City Hall reporter Mike Dunn.)

Decades of history can be found in the press room at Philadelphia City Hall, Room 212: typewritten stories stuffed into rusty file cabinets, yellowed newspaper clips and editorial cartoons taped to the walls, a bulletin board crammed with buttons from political campaigns long past. One day I found a manual typewriter, still functional, and I set it aside in case the power goes out.

Then there was a fraying clip of a magazine article, date and source unclear — perhaps from the 1950s — about the reporters who covered City Hall in the ‘20s and ‘30s. The article included a photograph of the press corp that toiled in Room 212 in 1928.

It is no surprise that the reporters are all male and white; that was, unfortunately, the American workplace of the time. But what is most striking was the sheer number of reporters: 15 (with Administration officials mingled in), representing five newspapers. And while they’re smiling in the photo, its easy to imagine that they spent each day scurrying through the Hall, chasing elected officials, and competing among themselves to break stories about the mayor and City Council.

Competition, of course, has long been the engine of journalism. In my time covering City Hall, I was awed by the dogged, ceaseless competition between reporters posted here for the Inquirer and Daily News. Sure, they keep an eye on what those in the broadcast media were doing, as well the weeklies and, more recently, the bloggers and politically-minded websites like phillymag.com. But for decades, the fiercest competition that drove the dailies was simply between each other. It was the Inquirer versus the Daily News. Read more »

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