The Temple News today reports on the end of an era we hadn’t quite known existed: Journalism students at the university had been discouraged—since last spring—from interning at the Philadelphia Inquirer because of the paper’s lily-white staff. The department is now reportedly “easing up” on that policy.
Someday soon, Philly will look like this, only everybody will look like David Cohen and be shouting “Comcast? COMCAST!COMCAST!”
We Americans are a fairly history-minded people. No, we don’t always know our history as well as we should—but the history we do know often tends to act as a trump card in our current political debates. Think about it: There are few conversation stoppers quite so effective as: “You’re on the wrong side of history!”
This is unfortunate, because that attitude treats history as an inexorable force for good, rather than the product of millions of human choices about how to act, and millions more human choices about how to interpret all of those choices. History isn’t a train that we’re riding to some inevitable destination; it’s something we make together, every day.
Sometimes, we we even make choices that end up looking, well, wrong.
On the face of it, the Harrisburg Patriot & Union made the wrong choice back in 1863. The paper covered President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address—now judged one of the most famous orations in the English language, and memorized by generations of schoolchildren—and gave it a thumbs-down.
When Michael Lorenca was feeling anxious over escalating tension between warring Inquirer owners Lewis Katz and George Norcross, he sought advice.
“This lawsuit is allied versus axis powers,” publisher Bob Hall allegedly told him. “No one can be Switzerland. And I’m on Norcross’s side.”
Lorenca, Hall’s associate publisher, decided to simply vacate the map altogether, resigning, effectively, at the end of this month.
This story emerged today while Hall was under cross-examination from attorneys representing Katz and fellow owner H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest in their suit against Hall and Interstate General Media, a consortium of businessmen including Jersey political power broker and insurance titan Norcross. Hall said he could not recall his exact wording to Lorenca, but essentially confirmed the account given by Katz’s lawyers, adding that he supported Norcross because “Norcross was on my side” to do what he felt needed to be done.
This is what the editors of the Harrisburg Patriot & Union–now the Patriot-News–wrote about Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, five days after the fact.
A publisher didn’t hire Bill Marimow. So a publisher didn’t have the right to fire Bill Marimow.
That, at least, was the take of the Inquirer’s once — and, possibly, future — editor on the stand Wednesday during a court hearing challenging his October firing by publisher Robert C. Hall.
It was a stance affirmed by former publisher Greg Osberg who — despite a contradictory story put out at the time — said Wednesday he had nothing to do with Marimow’s hiring. That was the work of Lewis Katz and George Norcross, then the incoming owners, now rivals in the lawsuit over Marimow’s firing. The pair make up the management committee of Interstate General Media, the ownership group which bought the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com in April of last year.
“I didn’t hire him, so I couldn’t fire him,” Osberg said.
Richard Cohen, columnist and bigot in residence for The Washington Post, is one of those people who are so unapologetically thoughtless in their understanding of people unlike themselves that their sincerity is rather astounding.
Cohen has – quite literally – made his career in the past year saying all types of things that one would only expect to find themselves privy to as a result of a live mic mishap; surely things that no one would commit themselves to, and on paper no less, with their photo placed adjacent to their deplorable opinions.
For those unfamiliar Cohen’s work [lucky you!], I have assembled something of a “Best Of” list below:
There’s something wrong about the latest battle in the Philadelphia Newspaper War, the court hearing that’s scheduled to get under way around 10 a.m. today. It’s not merely that the owners of the city’s most-important media institutions — the Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com — are at loggerheads, nor that they’re spending untold sums of money that could be better put to use hiring new reporters, nor even that the whole shebang has hundreds of still-employed journalists on edge.
The problem is that it all comes down to one man: Bill Marimow.
The drip, drip, drip of information and emails out of the ownership dispute surrounding the firing of Philadelphia Inquirer editor in chief Bill Marimow continues.
Now, a source close to the situation has released a few emails between Lewis Katz and publisher Bob Hall. In the emails, sent in August of this year, Katz and Hall discuss Marimow’s reluctance to fire some of his editors. The emails provide a window into the disputes that led up to Marimow’s firing, by Hall, last month, which sparked a series of lawsuits among the media company’s fractious ownership group.
In what now seems like a recipe for a long hair pull of a legal dispute, Interstate General Media, which owns the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com, is essentially run by a two-man management committee of parking entrepreneur Katz and insurance mogul/New Jersey Democratic party boss George Norcross. According to the written terms of their agreement, the pair must reach some consensus on decisions related to “business and operational aspects of the company” but “shall have no authority with respect to editorial or journalistic policies and decisions.”
So the million dollar question is this: Is firing the editor in chief, or his subordinates, an editorial decision—or a business one?
I’m sick of “sorry.”
A colossal string of clusterfucks over the past week triggered a litany of public apologies. As luck would have it, the mea culpas were as bad as the screw ups. The apologies were too late, too vague, or too blatantly insincere to assuage anybody.
As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Apology is only egotism wrong side out.”
CBS’s 60 Minutes spent a year researching a piece on the Benghazi attacks, only to be duped by a phony eyewitness. After defending her reporting for days, correspondent Lara Logan and her boss, Jeff Fager, made the media rounds of “sorry.” Read more »