Mike Dunn on the Empty Desks in City Hall’s Pressroom

An old news clipping — provenance is unknown — about City Hall's once robust and now-depleted press corps. | Clipping courtesy of Mike Dunn.

An old news clipping — provenance is unknown — about City Hall’s once robust and now-depleted press corps. | Clipping courtesy of Mike Dunn.

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from former KYW City Hall reporter Mike Dunn.)

Decades of history can be found in the press room at Philadelphia City Hall, Room 212: typewritten stories stuffed into rusty file cabinets, yellowed newspaper clips and editorial cartoons taped to the walls, a bulletin board crammed with buttons from political campaigns long past. One day I found a manual typewriter, still functional, and I set it aside in case the power goes out.

Then there was a fraying clip of a magazine article, date and source unclear — perhaps from the 1950s — about the reporters who covered City Hall in the ‘20s and ‘30s. The article included a photograph of the press corp that toiled in Room 212 in 1928.

It is no surprise that the reporters are all male and white; that was, unfortunately, the American workplace of the time. But what is most striking was the sheer number of reporters: 15 (with Administration officials mingled in), representing five newspapers. And while they’re smiling in the photo, its easy to imagine that they spent each day scurrying through the Hall, chasing elected officials, and competing among themselves to break stories about the mayor and City Council.

Competition, of course, has long been the engine of journalism. In my time covering City Hall, I was awed by the dogged, ceaseless competition between reporters posted here for the Inquirer and Daily News. Sure, they keep an eye on what those in the broadcast media were doing, as well the weeklies and, more recently, the bloggers and politically-minded websites like phillymag.com. But for decades, the fiercest competition that drove the dailies was simply between each other. It was the Inquirer versus the Daily News. Read more »

Watch: Daily News Staffers Rock Out to “Crazy Train”

Daily News columnist Helen Ubiñas says the video above was inspired by Jennifer Pownall‘s campaign to raise awareness (and funds) of brain tumors. The Rock Out Brain Tumors Challenge is like the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, only less uncomfortable, assuming you’re comfortable with public performance.

Ubiñas and her colleagues decided to take the challenge after Gar Joseph, the paper’s city editor, was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Read more »

Newspaper Guild Offers to Buy Philadelphia Daily News

Daily News

The union that represents journalists at Philly’s biggest newspapers is — once again — offering to buy the Daily News, this time in the wake of announced layoffs at the company. A spokesman for owner Gerry Lenfest, however, said he is uninterested in selling.

“We would like to commence negotiations for a sale of the Daily News immediately,” Lisa A. Lori, the guild’s attorney, wrote in a Thursday letter (below) to Terry Egger, the new publisher at Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the paper.

Such a purchase, she wrote, “will help mitigate the loss of employment for a substantial number of individuals and it will help PMN shed an asset that, based on the number of layoffs of Daily News employees … it appears PMN has little interest in.”

The letter was obtained Thursday afternoon by Philadelphia magazine. Bill Ross, executive director of the guild, confirmed the letter’s authenticity, but offered few details.

“At this point it’s probably premature for me to comment,” he said.

A spokesman for PMN, however, said the offer would be rejected: “Mr. Lenfest has consistently made it clear he has no interest in selling the Daily News.” (See the official response letter, below.) Read more »

Layoffs Slam Philly.com, Daily News Hardest


As expected, layoffs were announced at Philadelphia Media Network on Wednesday afternoon — nearly 50 journalists and other workers at the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com told they will lose their jobs as the company restructures.

The Newspaper Guild said Philly.com and the Daily News were the most heavily hit, each losing 17 staffers — the website losing roughly half its production staff — while the Inquirer was slated to lose a dozen people. The list of journalists losing their jobs included a number of familiar bylines, as well as behind-the-scenes staffers.

“I think it devastates the whole operation,” said Bill Ross, director of the guild, which represents journalists at the papers. “They wiped out the whole Daily News copy desk. It’s ridiculous.”

A Daily News journalist added: “DN is left with literally a handful of people. It’s staggering.”

“A blood bath,” added a Philly.com staffer.

Read more »

Big Layoffs to Hit Inquirer, Daily News, Philly.com

inquirer-daily-news-philly-com-940x540Philadelphia Media Network will lay off 46 members of the Newspaper Guild, the guild notified members Monday afternoon.

Journalists at the company — which owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — had been prepared for news of layoffs since Friday, when new publisher Terry Egger said job reductions would be part of a restructuring that includes the merging of the three newsrooms. Read more »

The Daily News Isn’t Dead. Yet.

Photo Nov 02, 12 13 46 PM

They’re writing the Daily News’ obituary. Again.

Friday’s news that the newsrooms of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com are merging has prompted a new round of speculation that the gritty tabloid’s days are numbered. Yes, new publisher Terry Egger said the paper will continue to publish separately, but that didn’t stop other observers from checking the walls for signs of handwriting.

“A check with a few insiders reinforced my view that time is running out for the 90-year-old tabloid,” Poynter columnist — and Inky alum — Rick Edmonds wrote over the weekend, noting: “Most second papers under common ownership disappeared in the ’80s and ’90s.”

Rumors of the Daily News’ demise have been greatly exaggerated in the last few decades: You’d have been a sucker if you’d ever bet against the paper’s continued existence. In fact, there are still reasons to believe the paper will continue to exist — but there are also reasons to believe that the end is near. Read more »

Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News Newsrooms to Merge

inquirer daily news newspapers

Updated with comment from PMN. See below.

The newsrooms of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com will merge, the publisher of the papers told reporters today, part of a radical restructuring of parent company Philadelphia Media Network that will include job reduction in “every area” of the company, the city’s biggest news organization.

The Inquirer and Daily News will continue to publish as separate newspapers, however. Stan Wischnowski, the vice president of news operations for PMN, will reportedly be in charge of the combined newsroom.

Terry Egger, the new publisher of Philadelphia Media Network, made the announcement in a 10:30 a.m. meeting with the company’s journalists. A separate 3:30 p.m. meeting was scheduled for remaining employees unable to make the morning meeting. Read more »

Temple, Philly Newspapers in Project to Create “Paperless” News Future

David Boardman, dean of Temple University's School of Media and Communication, left.

David Boardman, dean of Temple University’s School of Media and Communication, left.

Philly’s major daily newspapers are getting ready to take a big step away from “paper” — and they’re doing so with the help of Temple University.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced Monday it is giving a $1.3 million grant to Temple to help Philadelphia Media Network — owner of the the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com — to accelerate the transformation of the business to a “truly digitally focused” operation that “can look to the future without newsprint.” Three other “legacy” news organizations — the Dallas Morning News, Miami Herald, and a publication to be named later — will also participate in the project.   Read more »

Merging Daily News, Inquirer Newsrooms Would Be Dumb

Banner via Facebook

Banner via Facebook

The first day I walked into the newsroom at the Daily News, one of the editors pulled me aside to share an insight on the very soul of the tabloid that lives perpetually on death row.

“Our job,” she told me, “is to get to the emotional heart of every story.”

In doing that, of course, we got to the emotional heart of the city.

I spent nearly a decade at the paper in the 1990s directing local news coverage, trying to get at that emotional heart, and doing everything I knew how to beat the bejesus out of Big Sister who then lived downstairs at the old headquarters at 400 North Broad Street.

This is all on my mind, and in my heart, these days because of an interview on this website with a man who has been named the new publisher of both the Inquirer and the Daily News, Terry Egger.

Philly Mag interviewed the new guy — who has been at newspapers in St. Louis and Cleveland — and this is the part that is disturbing for long-time Daily News fans:

“Can we afford some of the inefficiencies that are inherent in having three entirely separate newsrooms?” Read more »

Terry Egger Named New Publisher of Philadelphia Newspapers

Terry Egger, then publisher for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is shown during a news conference in St. Louis in this June 3, 2005, file photo. (AP Photo/James A. Finley)

Terry Egger, then publisher for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is shown during a news conference in St. Louis in this June 3, 2005, file photo. (AP Photo/James A. Finley)

Terry Egger, former publisher of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, has been named the publisher at Philadelphia Media Network, overseeing the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.

He was named to the position by PMN’s owner, Gerry Lenfest, who had assumed the title of publisher after buying the papers in 2014. Lenfest had said he would hire a replacement after reaching deals with the newspaper’s unions — a process that concluded over the summer.

“Terry is a proven leader in the industry and has a tremendous vision and understanding of what we need to do to keep our printed papers strong while also expanding our digital news portfolio,” Lenfest said in a statement. “His strong leadership and management skills will serve us well as we continue to transform this company into one of the most innovative media organizations in the industry. He understands the importance of strong journalism as our lifeblood.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity indeed,” Egger added, “and with Gerry’s ownership, a strong new Board of Directors in place, the talented professionals working at PMN and a vibrant community, we have what we need to evolve and succeed. I can’t wait to get started.” Read more »

« Older Posts