The service, which used to deliver the newpapers to campus dormitories, faces a debt of $17,000 to the Times, according to Times spokesperson Nancy Nielsen. She said the paper has not received payment from Penn News since last July. Inquirer Campus Sales Manager Joel Kopke refused to specify exactly how much money Penn News owes the Inquirer, but he put the amount at "between five and ten thousand dollars." USA Today sales representative Sharon Gerg said yesterday that Penn News paid for deliveries as recently as September 11, but said the delivery service now owes $1,943. Penn News Owner Mike Monk, a Wharton junior, did not return several phone calls last night. Monk has repeatedly avoided calls from The Daily Pennsylvanian and subscribers have also complained that they cannot reach him. Each of the three newspapers independently stopped supplying Penn News with newspapers at the end of last semester because they had not received payment. Students who paid for subscriptions have not received refunds or papers since then. Even when students were receiving papers, many complained delivery service was erratic. Nielsen said the Times will resume supplying Penn News with newspapers once the delivery service pays off its debt, but only if Monk's "account is in good standing." Kopke said paying the debt owed the Inquirer will not be enough to start sending newspapers again, saying he will first have to "feel confident that [Monk] can pay for future deliveries." USA Today would continue to use Penn News if the delivery service pays its debt, according to Gerg, but she said "we would keep much closer tabs on the account and make sure there was a payment every 30 days." Kopke said he and a Times official met with Monk twice last month to find a way to solve Penn News' financial woes. At the time, Kopke said Monk promised to pay all his outstanding debts so that service could continue. "I thought we were well on our way to getting Penn News back on its feet and restoring service to the students," Kopke said. "But Penn News didn't follow through." Officials at all three newspapers reported they have had no recent success at reaching Monk to discuss the company's financial problems, despite their leaving repeated messages on his answering machine. In addition to losing revenue, the officials say their newspapers are losing a sizable audience now that campus delivery is suspended. In an attempt to tap the campus market, the Times explored the possibility of delivering the paper through its own home distribution network, according to Nielsen. But Deputy Vice Provost George Koval said yesterday that he rejected the proposal because the University and Penn News still have an agreement which gives Penn News exclusive rights to deliver newspapers on campus. Negotiating a new agreement with another agency could create legal problems for the University, he said. Koval said that until Penn News tells him they "are out of the picture," any negotiations with the Times or other newspapers would be "inappropriate." Kopke said he would prefer to continue using Penn News for distribution of the Inquirer, but only if the delivery service first pays its debt. "I still think Penn News in the right hands is the way you go," he said. "Right now, we're still trying to work this thing out with Mike [Monk], but if this goes on much longer I will have to consider other options." While the status of Penn News remains unclear, Gerg expressed concern that USA Today's image among students might suffer damage unless future reliability can be improved. "Anytime we have bad delivery, it makes us look bad. I'm just concerned that this bad delivery is going to make USA Today look shabby and not reliable," she said.Comments powered by Disqus
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