Journalists “Not Willing to Budge” in Newspaper Labor Stalemate

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Labor negotiations between the journalists union and the company that owns Philly’s two largest daily newspapers have taken a “grim turn,” the union announced this week.

Talks have faltered, union officials say, over Interstate General Media’s attempt to weaken “last in, first out” seniority rules for laying off reporters during times of financial crisis at the newspapers. The result? The company has reportedly withdrawn its pay-and-benefits proposals it had hoped would govern the next contract.
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Daily News Cartoonist: Paris Attackers “Came After Us”

When Signe Wilkinson heard about the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris, she was — like the rest of us — horrified. As a political cartoonist who once depicted the Prophet Mohammed in print, though, she had extra reason to be alarmed.

“You know, when you live in America, it’s not unknown to wake up and hear 12 people are shot somewhere. That’s kind of a recurring theme. But when it’s 12 people you feel affiliated with in a profound way — cartoonists feel pretty connected — it’s a terrible loss,” said Wilkinson, the longtime Philadelphia Daily News cartoonist who won a Pulitzer Prize for her work in 1992. “They came after us. It was not random.”

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“Con Artist” Considers Run for City Council

Daily News reporter William Bender wasn’t kidding.

In an article published today, Bender chronicles the bizarre tale of Lewis Thomas III, who is considering running for Philadelphia’s 5th District Council seat if Council President Darrell Clarke decides to run for mayor.

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At Daily News, New Fears About the Future

They're owned by the same company, but rivals just the same.

They’re owned by the same company, but rivals just the same.

An apparent hiring freeze and the exodus of several high-profile staffers to the Inquirer has left Daily News staffers feeling stretched thin and wondering — again — what the future holds for their long-beleaguered newspaper.

Interstate General Media, which owns both newspapers and Philly.com, has been restructuring operations ever since Gerry Lenfest took over as owner and publisher last year: The photo staffs of the two newspapers were combined this month — managed out of the Inky newsroom — and Philly.com has been hard at work building up its roster of talent while supplanting the old newspaper websites.

But this week’s announcement that political columnist Chris Brennan is moving to the Inquirer after 15 years at the tabloid appears to have unleashed fears among staffers that the Daily News is being left to wither slowly on the vine. And those frustrations are peaking while IGM and the Newspaper Guild — which represents employees of all three newsrooms — negotiate a new bargaining agreement to replace the contract that expires February 8th. 

“I think it’s fair to say the Daily News won’t be hiring anybody in the short run. Hopefully that will change,” said Howard Gensler, the Daily News gossip columnist and president of the guild. “The belief is that the Daily News has too many employees.”

But, he added: “I haven’t gotten any evidence from the company they don’t want there to be a Daily News.”

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DN’s Chris Brennan Moves to Inky

Capping off a day of local media moves, the Daily News‘ Chris Brennan — one of the city’s foremost political reporters — revealed today he’s moving over to the Inquirer after 15 years at the tabloid.

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State Rep. Spent $600 in Pa. Money to Promote His Acting Gig

It cost James Roebuck $600 to get into the Daily News gossip column. That wasn’t the state representative’s intention, but it was the end result.

On Sunday The Morning Call published a report on the use of consultants by state legislators. The gist: Despite having a small army of employees, lawmakers can (and do!) hire consultants with taxpayer money. The practice, while legal, has no oversight and a number of critics.

Which brings us to Roebuck. Two years ago, the state paid $600 to Bonnie Squires to promote Roebuck’s acting debut — as a corpse — in a play in West Philadelphia. Roebuck paid Squires’s firm $6,600 in consulting fees in 2013.

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Decade-Old Daily News Pulitzer Beef Rekindled by Journalist’s Return

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

A decade-old beef about how to divvy credit for a series of Pulitzer-recognized Philadelphia Daily News editorials has been given new life by the rise of a new news organization in town.

The editorial series “Acres of Neglect” — an in-depth look at neglect of Philadelphia’s park system — ran in the Daily News in 2001. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing in 2002, losing out to a Los Angeles Times series of editorials about the mentally ill. 

Two writers on the Daily News series — Sandy Shea and Carol Towarnicky — say they’ve never been given the credit they deserve on the series. And they say that Frank Burgos — then the editorial page editor of the paper, now the managing editor of the soon-to-launch PhillyVoice.com website — has taken too much credit.

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Cop in Pulitzer-Winning ‘Tainted Justice’ Series Gets Job Back

Jeffrey Cujdik has his job back.

Cujdik is one of the Philadelphia narcotics officers implicated in the Daily News’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Tainted Justice” series. No charges were brought against Cujdik or any of the cops written about in the series; the Inquirer wrote a scathing piece on the series. (Our own Joel Mathis wasn’t quite convinced.)

But Police Commissioner Charles Ramsay fired Cujdik in May despite prosecutors’ decision not to file charges. Now, an arbitrator has reinstated Cujdik, though he won’t return to narcotics and won’t get back pay. A 30-day suspension will remain on his record.

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