At an auction conducted on Wednesday, the struggling and increasingly irrelevant Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News as well as their Internet arm “Philly.com” were all purchased by a group of creditors.
The new owners have quickly come under fire from the top politicians at both the Commonwealth and the City levels.
Governor Ed Rendell, the former 2-term Mayor of Philadelphia, voiced his concern that he believed that newspapers should be owned by people from the area. He further stated “In the end, the newspaper is nothing if not the people who work for it. If you take that away, you take away it’s soul.”
Mayor Michael Nutter, the current Philly head honcho, called on the new owners to make their decisions on how to proceed with the operation of the papers “based on great journalism” rather than being overly concerned with the financial bottom line.
Both of these comments mask the actual concern of these two leading Democratic Party politicians. Their real primary concern is that with new ownership will come a basic change of direction in the editorial content and presentation of the two papers.
For decades, the Philadelphia Inquirer and even more overtly the Daily News have been outwardly liberal in their political and social commentaries and with the vast majority of their political endorsements. It is this liberal ideology as directed by Rendell and Nutter’s Democrats that has demoralized Philly and reduced it to a shell of it’s former greatness.
Rather than using their status as the city and region’s main newspapers and internet presence to call for reform and change to a system that has resulted in massive numbers of citizens and businesses fleeing the city over the last few decades, the two papers have continually backed the status quo.
The newspaper business has been dying all across America for the past couple of decades. This is partly due to the Internet, partly due to 24-hour news, sports, weather, and entertainment television channels. But there is still a niche that properly run newspapers could fill. Unfortunately most have been taken over, as Philly’s papers were, by partisan political shills. As this became more and more obvious, more and more people turned away from regular readership and subscriptions.
The “soul” that Rendell speaks of, those editors, writers, and staffers who put the newspapers out on the streets, and the old ownership that hired them, supported them, and encouraged them to push that liberal agenda and back those Democratic politicians is directly to blame.
Rather than maintaining the former status quo and leaving every worker untouched, and leaving the newspapers to continue their failed direction that has in turn failed the citizens of Philadelphia, the new owners should do exactly the opposite of what Rendell and Nutter are hoping.
If it is determined that Philadelphia needs and has the viability to support two newspapers, which is dubious at best, or if only one should survive, change is absolutely vital. The editorial direction and content of the papers and website in every department needs to reflect a much greater diversity of opinions. Particular attention needs to be paid towards making Philadelphia, other localities, Pennsylvania, and national pols much more accountable.
Ed Rendell and Michael Nutter, as well as a number of individuals who work for both newspapers, and any number of liberal activists all around the Philly region are concerned over the possible direction that the new ownership will take. They should be concerned that their domination of the conversation, one-way in the wrong direction for decades, will cease, and that Philadelphia may indeed see it’s newspapers become what they were meant to be all along, a true watchdog.