FUMO SEEKS TO AVERT NEWSPAPER JOB REDUCTIONS
PHILADELPHIA, September 23, 2005 – State Senator Vince Fumo (D-Philadelphia) today asked Governor Ed Rendell and Mayor John Street to meet with him and officers of Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. in an effort to prevent significant layoffs at the city’s two major daily newspapers.
Fumo also called upon PNI, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, not to take further action toward its planned workforce reduction until such a meeting takes place.
"Any time a major employer in the city attempts to eliminate a large number of jobs, I think elected officials have an obligation to examine possible solutions," Fumo said.
"For a number of reasons, that is especially true in this case. As a lifelong Philadelphian, I consider the Inquirer and Daily News to be institutions, part of what makes this city great. Although I’m often upset by some of the things they write, including occasionally what they write about me, I consider an aggressive free press to be a fundamental part of a free society," he added.
On Tuesday, PNI announced workforce reductions, through buyouts and possible layoffs, of 100 reporters and editors – between 15 and 19 percent – at the two papers.
In writing to the governor and the mayor, Fumo said the loss of so many jobs would be "a significant blow to the economy of both the city and the region."
He also pointed out that it jeopardizes Philadelphia’s status as a "two paper" city, and expressed concern about the long-term ability of the PNI to continue publishing two papers under the strain of such staff cutbacks.
He also wrote: "In the past, when a major employer in the city announced reduction in workers, government both at the state and local level stepped up and worked with the company to find ways to protect these jobs. So when the Eagles intimated that they might have to move their franchise to another location, the city and state rose to the occasion and produced a new stadium to showcase the team. Government has taken similar actions for other economically threatened businesses."
Fumo asked the governor and mayor to expedite the scheduling of the meeting, given the immediacy of the situation.
A copy of the letter to the governor is attached. An identical letter was addressed to the mayor.
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(On Senate Stationary)
Dear Governor Rendell,
As you may know, Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. (PNI) announced on Monday, September 19th, that due to financial considerations, they were going to reduce their staff by 15 to 20%.
This is a significant action for a number of reasons. The loss of more than one hundred jobs is a serious blow to the economy of both the city and the region. Of the people to be laid off, many represent the very type of educated professionals that we are trying to attract to our city. Their loss will harm these efforts as it will indicate that we are becoming a city with little opportunities for such men and women.
Also, with these reductions, it jeopardizes Philadelphia’s standing as a “two paper” city. While both the Inquirer and the Daily News are owned by the same corporation, I think that you would agree with me that their editorial positions are very different. Having different viewpoints in our local media is extremely important and must be preserved by all of us who are concerned with the idea of freedom of the press. A free press is essential to a free society.
In the past, when a major employer in the city announced reduction in workers, government both at the state and local level stepped up and worked with the company to find ways to protect these jobs. So when the Eagles intimated that they might have to move their franchise to another location, the city and state rose to the occasion and produced a new stadium to showcase the team. Government has taken similar actions for other economically threatened businesses.
I believe that newspapers are just as important and vital to our city as are our sports teams. That is why I am asking you to meet with me at my office either in Philadelphia or Harrisburg to discuss what actions we could take to stop this action.
Upon agreement of a date and time I will contact PNI and ask them to attend the meeting. In the meantime, I am calling on PNI to take no further action until we can discuss this situation.
Given the immediacy of the situation, I anticipate this meeting will occur as quickly as possible. Awaiting your reply, I remain,
Vincent J. Fumo,
Cc: Joe Natoli, PNI