Berks officials react to Reading Eagle bankruptcy - 3/22/2019
Berks County Commissioner Chairman Christian Y. Leinbach
"I really believe it is a shame on two counts. One, one of the critical aspects of a free society is a free press, and right now in Berks County the primary press entity is the Reading Eagle.
"Under local ownership, there is a direct connection and desire to serve the local community. I'm not sure we're going to see the same thing if it's sold to a large corporation outside the area. A great example of that is what happened to The Morning Call. It really transformed it into a different kind of paper, and I don't think in a good way.
"The other thing I would look at is the reality that we're in a transition. I don't know if we'll ever completely get away from printed media, but I believe the answer is going to be found in what is really valuable in the Eagle — the reporters and the focus on local news whether that is sports, breaking political news, community news, obituaries. Things that only local news gathering services can do."
Berks County Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt
"I've been getting home delivery for the past 40 years. The Reading Eagle is an institution in our community. I think it has to continue to exist is some form. It's been able to enhance its website and acquired other newspapers to bolster its revenue. But, hopefully, they will find a successful buyer who, at the very least, will keep the quality of reporting.
"National news is national news — you can get that anywhere. It's the local happenings in your municipalities and the human interest stories that people have come to rely on. Those stories are unbiased and nonpolitical.
"I would certainly love to see someone come in and really continue the proud tradition of the Reading Eagle Company. It can't go away. We're a county of 415,000 people. The company has to find an option. When you lose that local flavor, I think it's really a detriment to the community. I've been to a lot of other towns and cities in my travels, and I didn't see any newspapers that come anywhere close to what the Reading Eagle does."
State Sen. Judy Schwank
"When I first heard the news, I went through a range of emotions, one of them sadness. It's part of my personal ritual to read the Reading Eagle every morning. My husband and I, we've been long-time subscribers. But then also, worry, worried about how the news will be covered in Berks County, particularly local news. How will we keep people informed?
"I understand there's a possibility of a group of local investors that are putting together a package, I hope, to purchase the Eagle. Again, that's that range of emotions from sad to worried to encouraged that we may still keep that local focus.
"I fear the local newspaper being sold to a large news media corporation and what may be lost in terms of the fine details of what's happening in our community. If there's a local group of investors, I think that's a good sign. It doesn't mean that there won't be changes necessarily, but I'm hoping we can preserve the best aspects of the Reading Eagle. This is part of the fiber of this community."
U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan
"The free press is the bedrock of our democracy, entrusted with holding elected representatives accountable and shedding light on the news and stories concerning the public. The Reading Eagle has served our community for over 150 years. As both a citizen and elected representative, I am grateful to this local institution and am hopeful for its future. We are facing a crisis in local journalism around the country. Transparency in government and public affairs is something I take seriously, and I understand just how important a local and free press is to that mission. Without experienced journalists investigating and searching for truth, our country’s ability to engage in productive debate and successfully progress into the future is hindered."
Randy Peers, president and CEO, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance
"The Reading Eagle has been a part of this community's fabric for 150 years, and it's a really important mechanism for us to tell the story that we want to tell. So obviously I'm disappointed, but I'll say this: Over the next weeks and months we're going to focus our efforts on whatever we need to do to be supportive. If someone is looking to purchase the paper and the company, we're here as a resource just like we would be for any other business and just like we would be for any other company that is thinking about locating here.
"The thing I think we can do to help the situation is really to convey to any potential new entity why this is important. Why this community is special and why our local newspaper is so important. I think we're in a good position to do that."
Kevin K. Murphy, president, Berks County Community Foundation
“It is vital for our community to have reliable and trustworthy sources of news. The Reading Eagle has served Berks County for 150 years and we hope that it is able to continue to do so. As Reading Eagle Company moves forward, we will continue to monitor the situation and we are prepared to assist in any way we can.”