Law 360 (paywall) reports that Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery has announced plans to sue the Inquirer and Daily News for libel. The announcement follows a series of articles that claimed McCaffery’s wife received fees for steering cases to personal injury firms.
In many workplaces, job evaluations are part of the routine, a once-a-year cause for heartburn and/or celebration of another year of hard work completed. The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, though, aren’t run-of-the mill workplaces — and journalists at both papers are receiving what, for many of them, is a first-ever job evaluation.
It’s a brand-new process that has fueled rumors, challenged morale, and further disturbed the equilibrium of newsrooms already unsettled by legal feuding among the newspapers’ owners.
“In general, there is nothing wrong with a company evaluating its employees,” said Diane Mastrull, an Inquirer business writer, and an officer in the Newspaper Guild that represents journalists at both papers. “The problem is the chaotic, demoralizing context of this maiden evaluation.”
In the fall of 2007, I was asked to interview Norman Mailer at a Free Library book event. At the cocktail reception beforehand, I found myself huddled in conversation with the legendary author. He was, by now, a kindly old man, unsteady on his feet. I peppered Mailer with questions: We talked about the march on the Pentagon in 1967 that was the setting of his greatest book, Armies of The Night, a stinging critique of establishment journalism. He was charming and self-deprecating. There was little of that rebellious, pugnacious spirit that had come to be his calling card. Until, that is, we segued to the subject of newspapers, which were increasingly imperiled. In the Sixties, Mailer had founded the Village Voice because something new was desperately needed. He wanted to know: Where was today’s journalistic disruption?
“They get what they deserve,” he spat out. “When was the last time you read something in a newspaper — even in the vaunted New York Times — that made you think? America is allergic to ideas, and that’s not unrelated to the principal failing of journalism: It’s as if they don’t see it as their mission to publish anything interesting or stimulating or challenging. So I say, let them go. Good riddance.”
Morale is busted, advertisers uncertain, and Philadelphia’s newspapers are edging closer to another bankruptcy, lawyers for the papers’ feuding owners said in documents filed with the Delaware court that will revolve the fracas.
Ralph Cipriano reports at BigTrial.net that the Inquirer’s feuding ownership factions have filed their proposals on how to dissolve their partnership and sell the paper—along with the Daily News and Philly.com—to a potentially new owner. The dire state of the newspapers was detailed in those documents. Cipriano quotes P. Clarkson Collins, a lawyer for the ownership faction led by George Norcross, who said the deadlock has delayed the hiring of new key personnel for the newspapers and website.
Can Philly Newspapers Be Saved?
Should the Daily News Close?
Is There a Hero in the Ownership Battle?
Writer Steve Volk is a longtime observer of the Philadelphia media scene — so he brings a substantial foundation to this month’s Philly Mag print story that takes readers inside the furious battle for control of the city’s two major daily newspapers. It is also, he swears, the end of his media reporting days.
He talked this week about what he learned reporting the story, what he’s learned from his time on the beat, and what’s needed to finally, fully save the Inquirer and Daily News once and for all.
Until now, we didn’t know that Angelo Cataldi could be hurt by anything but a poorly swallowed cheesesteak. Turns out he takes criticism of WIP’s Wing Bowl very personally—and Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky’s criticism of it very, very personally.
“I always assumed there must have been something missing, because who would attend an event limited only to gluttony, binge drinking, vomit and half-naked women? There had to be more to it, yes?” she wrote Saturday, after the 22nd Wing Bowl. “No. There is not more to it.”
Polaneczky joined Cataldi on the air Tuesday morning, where he called her column a “hatchet job”—saying she focused on negatives when there were plenty of positives to be found, including money raised for charity.
“What did you expect?” Cataldi asked Polaneczky. “It really is not a show for someone in your demographic. What did you expect when you went to the Wing Bowl?”
The Philadelphia Newspaper Guild, which represents more than 500 employees at the company, filed a petition to intervene today in their parent company’s ongoing ownership dispute.
A status hearing took place this morning at which attorney Lisa Lori appeared, representing the Guild. “The Guild has seen nothing but pay cuts [in recent years]” she said afterward. “Unpaid furloughs. … They want an equity stake.”
According to an email leaked to Philadelphia magazine, Nancy Phillips, as her long-time companion Lewis Katz was contemplating purchasing a controlling interest in the city’s biggest media company, made sweeping recommendations about strategies for turning around the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, including specific executive firings and the possible elimination of the Daily News.
“Darling,” the March 17, 2012 email, from Phillips to Katz, begins.
If you care about Philadelphia’s newspapers — if you want to see the Inquirer and Daily News on the stands at your local Wawa, say, five years from now — let me suggest, ever so gently, that you root against Lewis Katz and Gerry Lenfest today as they head into yet another court showdown with the other owners of Interstate General Media.
This, of course, means rooting for George Norcross, and that’s a difficult proposition to sell because, well, he’s George Norcross, and, well, what else is there to say? One might as well root for the Death Star.
NJ.com reports: “Bill Conlin, the legendary former Philadelphia sports columnist whose career came to a crashing end 25 months ago after he was accused of molesting children as far back as the 1970s, died Thursday in a hospital near Clearwater, Fla. Conlin’s son, Pete, confirmed his father’s death in a text to NJ.com. Bill Conlin was 79.”