Spurned bidders threaten to start a rival newspaper

    The investors whose interest in buying Philadelphia’s newspapers has been ignored by the papers’ owners say they just may start their own paper.

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    The investors whose interest in buying Philadelphia’s newspapers has been ignored by the papers’ owners say they just may start their own paper.

    And they say the current owners’ suppression of coverage of their venture has so infuriated the papers’ journalists that many have encouraged the group’s ambitions.

    “It may well be that Philadelphia has been a one company newspaper town for too long,” said developer Bart Blatstein in a statement released by his group, called Philly Hometown Media, LLC.

    The group issued a news release to the Inquirer Monday announcing its interest in acquiring Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com.

    I’ve written about the PMN’s heavy-handed suppression of its reporters efforts to cover that development here and here. After considerable criticism and a union grievance, the papers began covering the efforts of other bidders on Thursday.

    In its statement this afternoon, Blatstein says the “censorship of coverage of our offer has caused distrust and anger among journalists locally and nationwide.”

    “They believe, as do we, that the damage PMN has inflicted upon itself may be permanent,” the statement continues. “Accordingly, today we are announcing our intention, should we not be successful in acquiring the PMN assets, to explore the development of a new and competing digital and print publication.”

    Read the entire Blatstein group statement.

    PMN spokesman Mark Block said today he was aware of the statement, but that the company had no comment.

    I can personally attest to widespread outrage among reporters at the Daily News and Inquirer over the events this week. I haven’t heard those reporters saying they favored the Blatstein group, or another overture by wealthy philathropist Raymond Perelman.

    The leading group contending for the papers appears to be a group headed by former Gov. Ed Rendell.

    This disclosure: One of the investors in the Blatstein group, real estate executive Jerry Sweeney chairs the board of WHYY.

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