According to philly.com, the buyout will be offered to about 140 employees, including 117 members of the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia, which represents journalists, plus those who work in advertising sales, finance, and other departments, the company said. The union said the company’s target is 10 percent of its 302 full-time members.
“We wish we didn’t have to make these tough choices, but these are the economic realities of journalism in 2019,” Terrance C.Z. Egger, Philadelphia Media Network’s publisher and chief executive, said in a statement.
The news organization is a for-profit enterprise owned by a nonprofit, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
The announcement came a day after a federal bankruptcy judge approved the sale of the Reading Eagle to MediaNews Group, which is known for eviscerating the staffs and liquidating the property of acquired newspapers. Local news organizations nationwide are hemorrhaging advertising revenue as they struggle to persuade readers to pay for digital subscriptions.
“A unique ownership structure means that we are not saddled with profit goals set by corporate owners or shareholders,” Egger told employees in an email, referring to the company’s status as a public benefit corporation, which means it does not have to maximize profits for shareholders.
“However, that does not make us immune to the dramatic economic challenges that weigh heavily on the news industry. Declines in revenue that have affected media companies of all sizes, including ours, require that we constantly adapt and adjust our expenses while also making strategic investments necessary for our future,” Egger said.
The company, which did not provide details on its revenue decline, said it has a financial savings target not tied to a specific number of buyouts. If it does not get the savings through voluntary buyouts, it will consider layoffs, the company said.