An email appeared in my inbox this afternoon:
Let me be real clear, none of the Journalists at the Inquirer or Daily News “Hate” Philly.com as you state in your misguided blog post today. Of course, there may be competition for certain stories, but all 3 do a great job. It’s the dysfunctional ownership battle, that has caused problems.
My emphasis added. That’s from Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild of Philadelphia, which represents journos at the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com. (The email is printed here with his permission.)
If my impression is misguided, it’s certainly been honestly come by. Reporting this week in the New York Observer highlighted “strains” at the newspapers over Philly.com’s ability to use their content for free, hobbling the papers’ paywalled websites:
“There’s a lot of concern over the digital strategy. Philly.com uses a lot of content from the two newspapers and there’s been a quiet war between the newspapers on the one hand and Philly.com on the other,” said the source.
Perhaps it’s been a “quiet war” of love and mutual respect. But that’s not been the impression conveyed in reporting by City Paper‘s Dan Denvir in recent months, either, which highlights tales of (apparently) stolen stories, questions of journalistic ethics, and dismay that Philly.com is building its own separate newsroom. “Philly.com is being nurtured at the expense of both newsrooms,” a newsroom source told Denvir. The owners “are on a real bad path. … Is there an end game and, if there is, what the hell is it?”
You can surely blame management and ownership for creating an awkward, occasionally redundant competition between what is now three separate news organizations. (Wrangling just two, the Inky and Daily News, seemed hard enough!) But if it’s the case that Inky and Daily News journos don’t “hate” Philly.com, there’s precious little evidence on the public record that there’s love lost, either.