Penn alum part of group buying Philadelphia Media Network
1965 College graduate Ed Rendell is not a part of the six-person investor group
April 2, 2012, 11:59 pm·
A Penn alumnus is now a part of a group that owns the Philadelphia Media Network, the parent company of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Daily News and Philly.com.
Krishna P. Singh, Holtec International Corporation CEO, is among a group of six local investors who acquired the company for $55 million yesterday.
Singh received his master’s in 1969 and his doctorate in 1972 from the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He is the namesake and $20-million donor for the new Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology, which broke ground in February 2011.
Two familiar names not among the group of investors are 1965 College graduate Ed Rendell — former governor, mayor and district attorney — and Edward Snider, chair of Comcast Spectator — the Philadelphia entertainment and sports company that owns the Philadelphia Flyers.
Rendell admitted early on that he would not be investing any money into PMN but was thought to have organized the group of investors. His potential involvement in a news organization was highly controversial because of his extensive political background.
Many were concerned that the journalistic integrity of the papers would be compromised under his ownership. Others feared that even if the new owners do not interfere with content, readers would automatically and unfairly assume a bias.
Businessman Lewis Katz and Democratic leader and insurance executive George Norcross lead the new group of owners.
In a press conference yesterday, Katz said, “The whole notion that I or any of our owners would in anyway interfere with the management of the news, with the decision that [journalists] must make on what you print will never happen. We do not want to run the newspapers.”
Penn senior fellow in the Critical Writing Program and 30-year Inquirer veteran Gail Shister said concerns about potential political interference and bias with the papers are valid.
But on the another hand, she is pleased to see that people are still willing to buy a newspaper company despite the financial nature of the industry.
The new ownership will be officially be known as the Interstate General Media L.L.C., although they will continue to do business as PMN. The new owners said they will not disrupt the current management led by CEO Gregory Osberg.
Shister said regardless of the owners, the journalists will maintain the integrity of the papers.
This is the company’s fourth change in ownership in less than six years. Shister is most concerned about the uncertainty of the paper’s future. “If history is any judge, it certainly doesn’t look like a long-term relation[ship]. I would love to be proven wrong because [the new owners] are local, and I believe they have a bigger stake in keeping it alive in Philadelphia,” she said.