The Reporter

He had become a legendary figure in the annals of Philadelphia journalism …

It’s just that its principles are contrary to the basic tenets of good newspapering. A public relations man’s first concern is controlling the public image of the client who is paying him. Often he is as much occupied with keeping information out of the newspapers as he is with getting it in. To a legitimate reporter, on the other hand, news is news, and as long as it is presented with objectivity and comprehensive fairness, the hell with image. Keep news out of a newspaper? A repugnant concept. You’d have to look pretty hard to find a newspaperman in the business today who would turn his back on a good story because someone was paying him to do so.

SYLVAN SCOLNICK CLAIMS it was he who first awakened Harry Karafin to the potential in his position as a "public relations" consultant. Whether he did or not, Karafin eventually got into the business in a big way. Within a few years after he started seeing Scolnick regularly at the time of the M. Stein & Co. bankruptcy, Karafin’s income jumped to several times the relatively small salary the Inquirer was paying him as its top expose reporter. He even reached a point where he started his own firm — Kaye Communications — and had business cards printed, "When Harry first started coming to Sylvan," says a close associate of Scolnick’s, "his shoes were raggedy, his teeth needed fixing and he was paying off a second hand car. Now look at him."

Harry Karafin did well in the public relations business.

Sylvan Scolnick played an important role in some of his business associations. Any reporter would have loved to have access to the circles, in which Scolnick traveled. Yet Harry Karafin seemed to have muzzled his usually fine reporter’s nose for news whenever he wheeled with Scolnick.

An operation called Young Development Company is a case in point. One Federal official called it "a cesspool of high-finance wheeling and dealing." It was basically a holding company and a lot of very big money men got into it to make a quick buck. Capitalized through a series of high-promise stock offerings, its principal holdings were the rights to "The Big Idea" television show. A former major network flop which featured a procession of bright-eyed inventors who displayed their gadgets in search of backer, and a kiddie series called "Diver Dan."

 

Scolnick heard about the money around in the Young coffers and decided to try to get in on it. He went before Young’s board of directors, which included some very respectable local businessmen blinded the idea of fat returns on their investment, and, waving a piece of in his hand, sold them the "exclusive" right to import a high-mark-up terrazzo tile from Puerto Rico. The deal went for close to $165,000, including a block of Young which Scolnick, against the stipulations of the sale, immediately began selling under the table for a fraction of its market value. A firm call Terra Cor was established as a subsidiary to handle the tile and Scolnick was put on its payroll. Young never made a cent on the deal. Scolnick never delivered the tile.

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