Delayed newspaper auction means continued agony for employees

    Bidding is off to a slow start for Philadelphia’s two daily papers and their website. The auction will help bring to an end a long bankruptcy saga that has pitted the current management against the creditors and has left employees on the edge of their seats.

    Bidding is off to a slow start for Philadelphia’s two daily papers and their website. The parties spent most of yesterday quibbling over auction rules.

    The auction will help bring to an end a long bankruptcy saga that has pitted the current management against the creditors and has left employees on the edge of their seats.

    Recent Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wendy Ruderman says the uncertainty is not new for Daily News reporters.

    “I think the people at the Daily News have had this attitude for years,” says Ruderman, “like, ‘you’ve been threatening to kill me off for years so just shoot me in the head and get it over with already.’ Or, ‘get out of my way, because we have a job to do.’”

    “So, today is the day where we feel like we’re going to learn our fates. I’m dying. I am totally dying. I’m all knotted up.”

    Barbara Laker, who shared the Pulitzer Prize with Ruderman, says being assigned to cover this story makes for an awkward experience. Laker had to interview an investor in the bidding group that’s aligned with current management.

    “So when Ray Perelman said to me, ‘well, I think the Inquirer is a great paper and I think it should remain in local hands,’ I said, ‘well, what about the Daily News?!?’ says Laker. “And I think I would have asked that question anyway but because I work here I’m more interested in the answer.”

    Reporters at both the Daily News and Inquirer wonder if they’ll have a job at the end of the bankruptcy re-organization.

    Columnist Stu Bykofsky says, no matter who ends up owning the paper, cuts are coming.

    “Well, the worst case scenario would be an owner who comes in here and breaks the contracts, tries to break the union and foment a strike,” says Bykofsky.

    Three groups of investors are vying for the papers. One group includes local investors allied with the current management. Another group is comprised of the company’s creditors. And the third is a Canadian company.

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