Over 300 members of the editorial staffs of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com today put their names to a statement today condemning the censorship practiced by the paper’s management over the impending sale of the paper. If the paper is sold to a conglomeration of political and business leaders that includes former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and South Jersey power broker George Norcross, the statement said, the new owners must pledge that the integrity of the papers’ reporting must never be sacrificed.
The potential sale of the paper to the group headed by Rendell has caused angst among staffers who wonder how the paper can continue to do its job independently when the ownership team consists of several prominent figures. Reporters were outraged when a story describing the interest of a competing ownership team was removed from the website and a statement from management posted in its place.
Earlier this week, the New York Times detailed a meeting between editors and the publisher, during which the publisher demanded that all stories about the impending sale be cleared through management.
Below is the statement in full:
As the only business mentioned in the Bill of Rights, newspapers serve more than private ends. The news we publish is crucial to civic life, to holding the powerful accountable, to democracy itself.
That information must be gathered and printed without fear or favor. As The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com have gone up for sale once again, we watched with dismay as our own coverage of the process was compromised and censored. Our employers promise this won’t happen again. That must be the case.
Top political and business leaders are now competing to buy Philadelphia Media Network. Regardless of who emerges as our new owners, they must guarantee that the integrity of our reporting will never be sacrificed to serve their private or political interests. One thing must be non-negotiable in any sale: our bond of trust with our readers.