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Philly Boss: Me First


Forbes: Boss Got Raise As Philly Papers Tanked. As the parent company of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News slid toward the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing it made over the weekend, one employee did well on the pay front: CEO Brian P. Tierney.

How disgusting is this?

The arrogance of the people like Tierney just compounds the woes of the newspaper business. He and his management team are facing the perfect storm when it comes to the revenue model for newspapers, but they don’t have to add to the damage with their greediness.

These are not small issues. The journalists and truck drivers and printers and salespeople at the Philadelphia have every right to feel betrayed.

UPDATE: The bosses have recognized reality and rolled back the raises. (Given that they did a leveraged buyout of the company, their salaries remain way too high, but that’s another issue.)

0 Comments on “Philly Boss: Me First”

  1. #1 Stephen Downes
    on Feb 23rd, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    The moral and intellectual bankruptcy of corporate leadership continues apace, followed closely by the ruination of their enterprises. What is wanting is someone to actually observe that and to say something. You know, like, say, the media? Oh right… part of that moral and intellectual bankruptcy.

    Sorry to sound so cynical… but *somebody’s* got to break this logjam here

  2. #2 Joe Zekas
    on Feb 23rd, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    What’s morally and intellectually bankrupt is playing the greed card without any serious consideration of the reasonableness of Tierney’s compensatoin, the level of his investment, the efforts he’s made to preserve a failing journalistic operation, etc. etc.

    Get off your high horse, Dan, and try practicing journalism again.

  3. #3 Dan Gillmor
    on Feb 24th, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    What they’re doing is legal looting, from my perspective. It’s only reasonable compared with the stuff the big private-equity operations have been pulling.

    Feel free to defend it, though.

    Pls see update, btw…

  4. #4 Joe Zekas
    on Feb 24th, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    From my perspective, and I think from any reasonable perspective, it’s your arrogant, fact-free assault on Tierney’s compensation that needs defending.

  5. #5 Dan Gillmor
    on Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:07 am

    The facts speak loudly for themselves. In a crashing market, where Tierney’s gamble failed and he had to take the organization into bankruptcy while demanding all kinds of concessions from everyone else — and has asked for a (state and local) government bailout — he and his fellow execs arranged to boost his pay by almost 40% to $850K.

    I grant that he’s not in the Merrill Lynch/Bank of America league with this stuff, but the facts are pretty damning.

    I still await a plausible defense. I suspect I’ll be waiting quite a while.

  6. #6 Joe Zekas
    on Mar 2nd, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Selectively presented facts speak loudly to support a particular bias.

    Braying that a certain level of pay is outrageous doesn’t make it so.

    I’m still waiting for a plausible attack. I know I’ll wait forever.

  7. #7 Dan Gillmor
    on Mar 3rd, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Still waiting for a defense of Tierney that includes even a single relevant fact…

  8. #8 Joe Zekas
    on Mar 6th, 2009 at 7:42 pm


    Tierney’s compensation – even with the raise – is, as you well know, not out of line with that of newspaper executives at comparable enterprises. Lower, for example, than Sun-Times executives.

    That’s a fact, and it’s no surprise to you.

    Is it your position that newspaper executives’ pay across the board is “disgusting?”

  9. #9 Dan Gillmor
    on Mar 7th, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Thank you for finally providing a fact, though the old “comparable enterprises” game is pretty tired at this point. Executive pay has always been about a round-robin of “he’s getting that so I deserve xx more than that” and such bogus logic, even when the enterprises differ as much as they may resemble each other.

    I’d call the Sun-Times’ senior executive compensation equally or more outrageous given the fact that they’re running a flailing (and I’d bet failing) enterprise — even though there’s a huge difference, namely that they’re a publicly held company. The Sun-Times also exists in a market with actual competition, namely the Tribune.

    Tierney (with investors) owns the Inquirer outright after the LBO; he/they stood to gain any upside from their gamble. It failed, and part of his response was to boost his own pay. It remains a disgusting demonstration of greed, no matter what kind of spin you want to put on it.

    Newspaper directors should be whacking the pay of their executives, not keeping it at the shameful levels the bosses insist they deserve no matter how badly the shareholders (and soon, lenders) are getting screwed.

    But then again, they are part of an American corporate culture that demands little or no accountability from the people at the top when things go wrong — leaving shareholders, employees and the communities in which they do business to clean up the wreckage.

  10. #10 Joe Zekas
    on Mar 9th, 2009 at 7:41 pm


    That’s a pretty impressive display of hackneyed hatred. Raw, ugly, unvarnished hatred and nothing more.

    Perhaps if you’d lost the millions that Tierney has in this venture you might see his actions as something other than “a disgusting demonstration of greed.”

    Can you make any reasoned argument that Tierney is responsible in any respect for the demise of the Philly papers? Or that the losses he’s incurred aren’t adequate accountability?

  11. #11 Dan Gillmor
    on Mar 12th, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    I think we should agree to disagree. I don’t hate these people. I do loathe their behavior.