Philadelphia Inquirer Champions New Plan To Revive Newspaper

First comes the bad news. Then comes the touted revamp. After weathering a storm of negative PR for cutting 71 members from the newsroom staff, the publisher of the The Philadelphia Inquirer laid out an ambitious multi-front plan to revive the paper's fortunes in an AP interview on Tuesday.

Brian Tierney, president of Philadelphia Media Holdings, said he plans to invest $20 million in upgrades and expansions for the paper in 2007, including long-term capital improvements, like plant-equipment upgrades and 200 new newspaper boxes outside metro-area McDonald's.

Tierney also described several new features to make the paper more useful and appealing to busy commuters. Among the new features is a news "express" section, sponsored by Commerce Bank, with news and editorial-page summaries, set to premiere in February. There is also a TV guide sponsored by cable service provider Comcast, including listings for Comcast's VOD offerings.

The paper is also revamping and expanding its online operations.

Tierney said the Inquirer is launching new independent Web sites for real estate and car classifieds--Phillycars.com, PhillyForRent.com and PhillyForSale.com--so users can reach these online destinations without having to navigate the paper's main site: Philly.com.

While praising Tierney's efforts to grow circulation and the new features in the print edition, Ken Doctor, an analyst with Outsell, Inc., emphasized the importance of the online initiative--especially Philly.com, the main site. "The biggest thing is seeing how well the revamped site works as a guide to the city and its neighborhoods," says Doctor. "That's key to its success going forward, and the growth of its online properties."

Tierney also promised a relaunch of the main site some time next quarter, adding that the newspaper's online ad revenue is growing by double digits.

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