George Norcross Takes His Case to Inky, Daily News Journos

The Newspaper Guild is staying neutral—but only after a “spirited debate.”

It’s come to this in the Great Philadelphia Newspaper War of 2013: George Norcross is lobbying his own employees.

Leaders of the Newspaper Guild that represents the journalists of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, said in a Monday afternoon memo that Norcross had urged them to “publicly support his campaign to get (his fellow) owners Lew Katz and Gerry (Lenfest) to sell their 42 percent minority ownership stake.”

“After an hour of spirited debate among the Board on the issue, the Guild Executive Board has decided to remain neutral,” said the memo from Bill Ross and Howard Gensler, the guild’s executive director and president, respectively.

Now, Ross and Gensler said, Norcross will be meeting in coming days with small rank-and-file groups of journalists from the newspapers and website. “We urge members to attend these meetings and ask questions,” they wrote. “If the Katz/Lenfest group requests similar meetings we will urge you to attend those also.”

We’ve sent emails to representatives for the differing ownership factions to get comment on this development. In particular, we’re curious as to why Norcross believes guild support will help his cause. (And also, why he thinks he might get it given a history of union encounters like the one Steve Volk described in his March profile of Norcross.)  And finally, we’ve heard a lot about unhappiness among rank-and-file reporters about Philly.com’s direction, which is run by Norcross’s daughter, Lexie. In that context, what does Norcross have to tell them that might win their support?

[Update at 5:13 pm] Jay Devine, a spokesman for Katz and Lenfest, commented via email: “Mr. Katz and Mr. Lenfest never bought these newspapers for economic reasons.  They believe in free and independent journalism that serves the public good.  These latest, inappropriate lobbying and bullying efforts by Mr. Norcross are just one more example of his repeated attempts to interfere and not let journalists be journalists.  We are pleased that the Guild continues to remain neutral despite this pressure.  We once again reiterate our offer to execute a buy-sell agreement with a shotgun clause.”

[Update at 5:26 pm] Daniel Fee, a spokesman for the majority ownership group headed by Norcross, offers his own statement in response to Philly Mag inquiries:

“Mr. Norcross did in fact meet with the Guild leadership today, as he has on numerous previous occasions.  He spent over 2 hours discussing the plans for the company and answering questions.  He has a plan for continuing the progress the company has made — they’ve gone from losing almost $50,000 a day to being on the path to profitability –and asked them to help him put an end to the litigation he neither sought nor wanted.  Everyone understands that the litigation filed by Mr Katz will cost the company hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars that could be invested in the company itself.  He is meeting with as many employees as possible in order to discuss what the company has done and where it is headed.  Mr. Norcross believes that it is in the best interest of the company if everyone is focused on and committed to the future.  That’s why he’d like the Guild’s
support and the support of every IGM employee.

“As for philly.com, Mr. Norcross is simply telling them the truth: Upon its purchase, the company began a substantial survey and planning process to learn more about who its readers are and what they want. It  identified challenges for each entity, but it also revealed one piece of extremely good news: the three journalistic entities appeal to different audiences and do not materially complete with each other for readership. Their readership is largely different, and therefore so too can be their focus be different. Moreover, they have learned that philly.com is a key outlet for re-engaging readers who left reading the papers years ago. More than 85 percent of philly.com’s page views are either from their own original content or non-Inquirer/Daily News partner content.”

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  • Byron Wiggins

    Norcross is up to the same crap he does in New Jersey. DIVIDE AND CONQUER. LEAVE NORCROSS ALONE, HE’S A NUT CASE and uses his money to buy people off. We will tell you how he controls jersey. He keeps it dirt poor and promotes certain people to make them feel special to use them to divide and conquer. He should be in federal prison on a RICO. He has paid HEAVILY into ADVERTISING DOLLARS FOR THE FAILING AOL Patch ONLINE SITES. He paid off Bill Duhart and Bryan Littel to write biased one sided stories. Sean Mccullen and Tim Zatirney are both paid off in full to write negative, misleading stories. Those two bozo’s should be ban from ever writing stories. They both got promoted and paid after they did what George HAD someone tell them to do. He paid off many other editors to write false light defamatory stories he is using to cyber bully and destroy peoples reputation online and then back them up to other forum sites that are restricted. He wants these newspapers so he can REALLY DESTROY PEOPLE. NORCROSS IS A DIRTY FIFTHLY WHORE. We hope KARMA WILL FALL DOWN ON HIM AND HIS DAUGHTER. They are EVIL. Mayor Mayer of Gloucester Township and Paul Moriarty, NJ Assemblyman, have a score to even. They go embarrassed in the newspaper and they want George to go after the person who embarrassed them. George takes care of his thugs and he makes sure he destroy the people who don’t go along with his evil plans. He’s horrible

  • Cindy

    A deal with George Norcross is the same as the deal the Devil

  • Andy

    George Norcross is lobbying his own employees. This sounds like South Jersey. These have been Norcross’s UNETHICAL PRACTICES for years. He loves to separate and divide people against his enemies and then start lies and rumors and then use print ads and some dumb reporter to write the George Norcross Version of the person he defames and discredits. While your at it, check out Patch.com. Norcross sunk Millions into that online site to destroy, slander and defame people. Byron was absolutely right. He has all the reckless reporters at Patch.com paid off to write one sided biased stories that are misleading and untrue. The stories are designed by George to Destroy People. Norcross should be under a Federal Indictment for all the criminal activities he is doing in New Jersey, but he must have stuff on the Leaders of the State or he is paying for their elections, because they do nothing about this Crooked Tyrant. PATCH should be under a Federal Investigation and AOL and Huffington Post as well. There is something going on that is full of hanky panky and it is all UNETHICAL AND CRIMINAL

  • Andy

    People HATE GEORGE NORCROSS AND WISH HE WOULD JUST GO AWAY FOREVER. NOBODY IN THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY LIKES THIS FRUIT CAKE. HE’S OBNOXIOUS AND MISLEADING. A PROFESSIONAL LIAR AND MANIPULATOR, A DEMONIC WIESEL. PURE 100% EVIL. SATANIC. HE BARES THE MARK OF THE BEAST 666. LOOK UNDER THE WHITE HAIR. 666 AND THEN CHECK LEXIE OUT AND SEE HER 666. THIS MAN IS HIGHLY DECEPTIVE AND CAN NOT BE TRUSTED. HE IS DIRTY DIRTY DIRTY. WE ARE HOPING THAT SOMEBODY WILL TAKE THIS DEMON DOWN. IF THEY DO, THEY WILL BE OUR HERO.

  • Andy

    ALL AOL PATCH STORIES ARE FULL OF NORCROSS AND SWEENEY MEDDLING AND CREATING THEIR STORIES THAT ARE DESIGNED WITH BIGOTRY, OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE AND ABUSE OF POWER, BUT THE PUBLIC WOULDN’T KNOW THAT BECAUSE NORCROSS COVERS HIS SNEAKY TRACKS AND PUTS OTHER UP TO DOING HIS DIRTY WORK. HIS DIRTY SENATOR BUDDY STEVE SWEENEY AND LYING DRUNK ASSEMBLYMAN PAUL MORIARTY DO THE SAME THING. THESE GUYS ARE LOW LIFE THUGS AND PUNKS THAT PLAN TO TAKE OVER PHILADELPHIA BY BRIBING STAFF AT THE INKY AND THEN JUDGES AND ELECTED OFFICIALS. HE PLANS ON TAKING DOWN EVERYBODY INCLUDING THE MOB. NORCROSS IS A STRAIGHT UP THUG