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Philly’s newspaper bankruptcy: nailing lenders, not labor

Unlike the Star Tribune’s situation, the Inquirer’s publisher says restructuring is ‘focused solely on our debt, not our operations.’
By David Brauer

Every bankruptcy is like a snowflake, and no one knows exactly how the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News Sunday filing will play out, but there’s at least one stark difference with the Star Tribune’s travails.

According to the New York Times, publisher Brian Tierney “signaled that his company’s primary aim in bankruptcy would be to seek concessions from the consortium of banks that hold its debt, not from the papers’ labor unions. ‘This restructuring is focused solely on our debt, not our operations,’ he said.”

The Inky’s debt is in the Strib’s ballpark ($390 million) and 2008 operating profits are also roughly equivalent ($36 million). Both papers were bought by private owners at about the same time, and have similar circulations. I’m not sure how the two media companies’ labor costs compare, however.