Lenfest “Donates” Philly Newspapers to New Nonprofit Media Foundation

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News newspapers sit on display on a newsstand in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News newspapers sit on display on a newsstand in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Gerry Lenfest has created a nonprofit foundation to own Philadelphia Media Network — the company that owns the Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com — and endowed the new institute with $20 million as it oversees the newspapers’ continued operation.

The move places the papers under the auspices of the Philadelphia Foundation, transforming the biggest news operation in America’s fifth-largest city into an unprecedented experiment in preserving large-scale newsgathering in the fast-changing — and fast-diminishing — newspaper industry.

The news was first reported Monday night at Philly.com. A formal announcement will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the National Constitution Center.

“I think it’s unprecedented for a big American newspaper to be turned into a nonprofit,” Rosental C. Alves, Director of Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, told Philly Mag late Monday night. Read more »

“Gerry the Grinch” Website Receives Cease-and-Desist Letter

gerry lenfest parody site

It would appear the fake Gerry Lenfest has the real Gerry Lenfest’s attention.

In the aftermath of the layoffs at Philadelphia Media Network — which owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com — an anonymous critic created the “Gerry the Grinch” Twitter account, and posted longer-form missives at GerryLenfest.com, both criticizing (and sometimes pleading with) Lenfest for the job reductions. Now a lawyer from PMN has sent the site’s owner a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that website’s domain name be transferred to the ownership of Lenfest himself.

The letter was posted Thursday afternoon at the Twitter account.

Read more »

Daily News Cover Compares Trump to Hitler

[Updated at noon with comment from editor]

Nothing subtle about this:

It will be interesting to see the reaction today. What else is there to say? People were wondering if the tabloid paper could maintain its sassiness in the wake of deep-cutting layoffs and the move to combine newsrooms with the Inquirer. Consider this, perhaps, a declaration of intent.

“We’re never done being sassy,” said Mike Days, the Daily News‘ editor, late this morning. By noon, the cover had been featured in the Washington Post, at Talking Points Memo, and on Poynter, among other outlets.

“The phone’s not ringing off the hook, but it’s been retweeted a number of times,” Days said.

Days said that during Monday news meetings, the focus was heavily on Trump’s comments that Muslims should be banned from entering the United States.

“There was widespread agreement we needed to find a way to lead with it today,” Days said. “We were able to marry a really good photo to what I felt were the right words.”

And if the Daily News’ future has seemed somewhat in doubt of late, Days suggested that the cover — along with similar covers by the New York Daily News — shows the benefit of having multiple newspaper outlets in a market: That gives at least one the freedom to make provocative statements on the front page.

“We call it the way we see it,” Days said. “When we do it, we really mean it.”

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 »

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