Hands Off  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Features
From AJR,   June/July 2006

Hands Off   

By Rachel Smolkin
     

Related reading:
   » Life with Brian

Brian Tierney and the other investors in Philadelphia Media Holdings signed a pledge not to interfere with the publisher's editorial decisions.

The language was suggested by the partners at Dilworth Paxson, a Philadelphia-based law firm that advised Tierney's group on the acquisition (Tierney's brother, Michael, is a partner there). Dilworth Chairman Joseph H. Jacovini recounts the origins of the language this way: "We were finalizing the acquisition with McClatchy and the investor documents, one of which is an operating agreement." Everyone involved understood the concerns that a local group might meddle with news in a way that a corporate chain would not, although Tierney had declared they had no intention of doing so. "What better way to prove that you mean it than to put it right in the very charter?" Jacovini recalled the partners asking. "We came up with the words. We mentioned it to Brian, and he said, 'Absolutely. Great. Good idea. Let's do it.'"

The text of the pledge follows:

"Editorial Independence. The editorial function of the Business shall at all times remain independent of the ownership and control of the Company, and no Member shall attempt to influence or interfere with the editorial policies or decisions of the publisher."

###