Enquirer’ staff wants Pope’s son
Employees: Let heir, 21, restore pride as new boss
By Shari Laiacona
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
December 18, 1988
WEST PALM BEACH – If National Enquirer employees get what they want, the 21-year-old son of Generoso Pope Jr., the tabloid’s late owner, will be their new boss.
Nearly 200 workers from the weekly newspaper and its sister publication, the Weekly World News, assembled at a hotel Saturday to pass that message to representatives of one of three trustees of Pope’s estate and to express their concerns about the paper’s impending sale.
“Mr. Pope never told us anything but the truth,” said one employee, who did not identify himself. “Management has told us from day one that this place was not for sale.
“We don’t have a whole lot of confidence,” he said. “That’s why we’re all here… on our last Saturday before Christmas.” The employees met at noon at the Palm Beach Airport Hilton.
They applauded the suggestion of several employees that Paul Pope, one of the late publisher’s five children and his father’s heir apparent, should take over where his father left off.
Generoso Pope Jr. died Oct. 2.
Trustees announced last week that GP Group Inc., the parent company of the Lantana-based supermarket tabloids, would be sold “as promptly as possible.” The company’s value has been estimated between $250 million and $400 million. It employs about 350 people.
Paul Pope said he has enough financial backing to buy his father’s company. “I’m ready to do whatever it takes to keep it in the family. I feel that I have a better chance than nearly everyone out there,” he said.
Employees asked about their job security, plans for severance pay, whether they would have a say in who buys the company and whether the paper’s editorial contents would change under new ownership.
Austin Beutner, vice president of The Blackstone Group, a New York City investment banking firm and trustee of the Pope estate, promised employees the full story of the sale would be told within two weeks, after trustees get “as accurate a read as possible” of the employees’ sentiments.
“We’re here to listen to your questions and concerns and pass them on to Mr. (Peter) Peterson,” chairman of The Blackstone Group, said Editor Iain Calder, formerly Generoso Pope’s right-hand man. Peterson, in turn, will “pass them on to fellow trustees,” Calder said.
Employees complained that they had to read about the upcoming sale in newspapers before learning about it from their managers.
That led to a “dearth of credibility” said employee Chris Curry. “Paul Pope is the only one” who can restore that credibility, he said.
The National Enquirer, which tells tales of celebrities and their misadventures, sells about 4.5 million copies weekly. The Weekly World News, which specializes in more sensational stories of UFOs and messages from the dead, has about 1.1 million readers a week.
“It’s difficult to put out the best quality tabloid in the industry when there is no pride in the product,” one employee said.