Tierney disappointed, but proud of his legacy

    Readers and employees of Philadelphia’s two daily papers and leading news website are wondering what’s next. Yesterday, the current management lost a bid to retain control in a bankruptcy auction.

    Readers and employees of Philadelphia’s two daily papers and leading news website are wondering what’s next. Yesterday, the current management lost a bid to retain control in a bankruptcy auction. CEO Brian Tierney had assembled a group of local investors to mount a bid, fighting a bitter battle with the company’s creditors.

    Brian Tierney says he’s disappointed about the loss, but proud of his legacy.

    “I was a good custodian and I was a good leader,” says Tierney, “and we did certain things like make the papers better, grew the website seven times, almost 100 million page views a month, increased advertising. We went from the bottom of the pack to number two in national advertising among our peer group.”

    Tierney bought the papers and philly.com in 2006 for more than $500 million. And although the operation turned a profit, it was not enough to cover the debts incurred in that deal. On Wednesday the creditors outbid Tierney’s group and took control of the media company for $135 million.

    John Laigaie is president of the Teamsters union local, which represents the company’s drivers and building service workers.

    Laigaie says he worries that “the outside lenders – in an effort to create more money for themselves, more money for their investors – will destroy the journalism efforts of the newspaper and seek to get more and more concessions out of the employees.”

    The creditors say they will not gut the papers. The sale still has to be approved by the bankruptcy judge.

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