New CEO of Philly papers hopes to preserve jobs
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - April 30, 2010 -- The lenders who won Philadelphia's two major newspapers at a bankruptcy auction are assembling a board of directors and hope to preserve as many jobs as possible, the executive designated to head the newspaper group said Friday.
Greg Osberg, former president and worldwide publisher of Newsweek and Newsweek.com, said he will ultimately answer to a board that will likely include representatives of the local business community, academics and others.
He plans to meet Monday with managers and staff at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and the Website Philly.com. He expects the sale to close in late May and hopes to complete contracts with the papers' unions by the end of June.
"I'm not going to start with the cost-cutting mentality. I'm going to start with the growth side," said Osberg, adding that the company will still have to make tough decisions. "Our margins are not where they need to be - we have to address that."
With a $139 million bid, creditors on Wednesday won a frenzied bankruptcy auction for the two papers and their website, despite last-minute pledges from local philanthropists to help boost a local group's bid.
The lenders announced Thursday that Osberg, 52, would be CEO of their newspaper company.
Before the auction, Publisher Brian Tierney - who had supported the local group's bid - had said the creditors' bid called for firing all of the company's 4,500 employees, with a pledge only to rehire at least 51 percent on new terms.
But Osberg said that's not the case.
"That is not the plan at all and never was," he said. "My goal is to preserve as many jobs as possible."
The company has 4,500 full- and part-time employees who belong to 14 labor unions, from Newspaper Guild members in the newsrooms to Teamsters who work as drivers and press operators.
Osberg - who recently was president and CEO of Buzzwire, a company that provides content and video for mobile phones - said he hopes to work on improving the papers' brand, focus on the use of multimedia like video and audio, and better utilize social-networking sites.
"There will be a culture of rewarding innovation," he said.
Former Publisher Robert J. Hall, 65, who had served as a consultant to the creditors, will be the new group's chief operating officer.
"We both believe strongly that the newspapers and the website have a strong future," Hall said.
Osberg again emphasized that their are no plans to close either of the newspapers.
"My goal is for each of those entities to have very distinct places in the minds of the community and to become must-reads for different reasons in the community."
philadelphia, pennsylvania, philadelphia daily news, philadelphia inquirer, local/state
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