The Philadelphia Inquirer received $ 10 million from the federal government Paycheque Protection Program for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic after changes to the program’s rules made the newsroom and other media eligible for funding.
With the award, The Inquirer is expected to be protected from layoffs until 2021, although buyouts may be offered later in the year, newspaper editor and chief executive Lisa Hughes said on Tuesday in an e- email to staff.
“Our industry is under pressure as advertisers and consumers turn to digital platforms, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated those pressures,” said Hughes. “Although we have made significant efforts to reduce our operational expenses, this loan is vital to the future of our business as it allows us to support jobs and our ongoing operations. “
PPP loans turn into grants for businesses when they spend at least 60% of those funds on salary costs, among other requirements. As of this week, about half of the $ 953 billion approved by lawmakers over the past year has been allocated, according to the US Small Business Administration.
Hughes said The Inquirer, which is owned by the non-profit Lenfest Institute for Journalism, was ineligible for PPP prior to recent changes to the program’s eligibility requirements. Changes to the program, which accompanied last year’s second stimulus bill, relaxed rules that had prevented news agencies owned by larger parent companies from accessing PPP funds.
Earlier this month, Hughes announced that The Inquirer sold its Montgomery County printing plant for $ 37 million as part of a cost-cutting deal. The Inquirer said in October that about 500 of the 550 employees who worked at the plant would be made redundant, more than half of what The Inquirer says is an average weekly workforce of 959.
Clarification: A previous version of this story cited The Inquirer’s total workforce, not its average weekly workforce. A company’s average weekly workforce is used to determine its eligibility for the federal paycheck protection program.