PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Inquirer and its tabloid partner, the Philadelphia Daily News, will merge newsrooms but continue to put out two separate newspapers, leading to an unknown number of job cuts, the owner announced Friday.
Publisher Terrance Egger said the digital operation, Philly.com, would also be part of the consolidation.
Egger, in his first staff meeting since coming on board weeks ago, told employees the move to a single newsroom is designed to save Philadelphia Media Network $5 million to $6 million annually.
Chairman H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, the principal owner, said the newsroom merger will streamline the company’s operations.
“It’s more efficient. Rather than have a reporter from each of the three entities to cover an event, we now can send one,” he said.
The challenge will be to assure the tabloid Daily News and the Inquirer, a more restrained broadsheet, keep their distinctive voices. “That will be the trick, because the Daily News is a different format than the Inquirer,” Lenfest said.
Egger did not give a job cut estimate, but told staff the company would begin talks with the union next week.
Guild president Howard Gensler, a Daily News columnist, said it’s unclear how the layoffs will be achieved. Each newspaper has separate seniority lists for each job title, while the Philly.com operation is a separate entity.
“As always with these types of grand plans, the devil is in the details, and the details are very sketchy,” Gensler said.
He said the two newspapers offer different products for different audiences, and can’t be combined “with the wave of a wand.”
“There are people who don’t like the Daily News’ tabloid style, and there are people who don’t like the Inquirer’s suburban mindset,” he said. “It sounds really easy, but it’s really hard.”
The company is also considering charging for its digital products to boost revenue, Egger said, according to an Inquirer report.
Egger took over Oct. 1 as the publisher of Philadelphia Media Network. At the time, he said the coming year promised to be difficult financially and the company might have to make adjustments.