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Newspaper publisher reveals startling statistics on crisis


A Philadelphia newspaper publisher delivered some alarming news at the recent Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce’s Global Executive Briefing.

The chamber also honored Marguerite Lenfest and the late Gerry Lenfest, who rescued the Philadelphia Inquirer in the recent national news crisis. In addition to their interest in a free press, Marguerite and her husband have made significant contributions to many art and cultural organizations throughout the county.

Terrance C.Z. Egger, CEO and publisher of The Inquirer, said, “Only 13 percent of the world’s population wakes up to an independent press.”

After discussing the results of the recent study establishing that data, he went on to add, “The business model that has supported journalism is completely disrupted.”

Egger was guest speaker at the luncheon held at the Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm in Holicong.

“We share these problems with the press around the world and in this country,” he said. And he said the crisis is spreading to places like Youngstown, Ohio, which no longer has a daily newspaper, and Pittsburgh, where the major once-daily newspaper is printed only two to three days a week.

Egger described how a Bucks County philanthropist, the late Gerry Lenfest, had sensed the problem early on and drafted and put in place an experimental plan “to save journalism in America.” Lenfest created The Lenfest Institiute for Journalism to “build viable, replicable business models for sustainable local news enterprises,” he said. It’s a nonprofit institute dedicated to public-service journalism.

The late Mr. Lenfest made his fortune in cable television and then he and his wife, Marguerite, decided to give most of it away. Through the Lenfest Institute, they gave $20 million, with an arrangement for matching funds, to The Philadelphia Inquirer to help keep it afloat while it modernized its newsroom and its news delivery methods.

He said the The Inquirer’s newsroom, which once numbered 600 employees has been cut to 200, with most of them younger and more diversified. “We are trying to diversify in order to better serve our diverse community,” he said.

Reporters covering state news in Harrisburg had dwindled to two but now total 12, thanks to the Lenfest Institute infusion of cash, he noted, and an I-Team of 13 full-time deep investigative reporters has been organized.

Bucks County Commissioner Chairman Rob Loughery declared the day of the event, Oct. 24, Lenfest Day in Bucks County, and Mrs. Lenfest was given a special Bucks County tile made by the Moravian Tile Works.