Should Philly’s Newspapers Operate as Charity Cases?

Philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Gerry Lenfest has spent much of the last decade giving his fortune away for worthy causes. So maybe it’s no surprise that when he finally sealed his complete ownership of Interstate General Media this week, Lenfest ended up sounding like Philly’s major newspapers were another one of his philanthropic enterprises

“I’ve given a lot of money away,” he told the Daily News. “But I can’t think of any cause that we support that’s more important than the support of the newspapers.”

Lenfest’s actions also matched the look of a man who isn’t anticipating great profit. He’s setting up a corporation that will continue to oversee the papers “just in case I kick the bucket,” and says he’ll create a board of directors composed of five to seven community leaders. That sounds more like the governance of a trust than a multi-million-dollar business.

All of which raises the question: Why not just follow these ideas to their natural conclusion and formally turn the Inquirer and Daily News into non-profit enterprises?

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Lenfest Appoints Interim Philly.com Editor

Any print devotee who hoped against hope the new ownership of Interstate General Media might let Philly.com whither and die — or at least fade into the background — had better rethink their goals. New owner Gerry Lenfest today appointed an interim executive editor to the website: Mike Topel.

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Drew Katz Finalizes IGM Shares Sale to Gerry Lenfest

Drew Katz, left, son of Lewis Katz, right, walk with philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest to a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Lenfest and businessman Lewis Katz are taking over Philadelphia's two largest newspapers with an $88 million auction bid. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Drew Katz, left, son of Lewis Katz, right, walk with philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest to a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Lenfest and businessman Lewis Katz are taking over Philadelphia’s two largest newspapers with an $88 million auction bid. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

It’s final. Drew Katz has sold his shares in Interstate General Media to Gerry Lenfest. And he affirmed Lenfest’s leadership of the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com on his way out.

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Drew Katz Still Plans to Sell IGM Shares

This just in: Drew Katz still plans to sell his shares of the Inquirer and its sister news organizations to Gerry Lenfest.

If the news has a slight “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead” quality to it — Katz originally announced he was selling his ownership stake last week — there is good reason for the update: Reports this week suggested the sale had not closed, which in turn sparked some hopes at the papers that Katz was rethinking the sale and might stay a member of the ownership group after all.

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Evan Mathis Pranks Media with Fake $64,055.76 Del Frisco’s Receipt

As one of the top offensive linemen in the NFL, Eagles guard Evan Mathis pushes people around for a living. And he’s also one of the wittier players in the game, at least if you define wit as “the ability to be a wiseass on Twitter” (which I obviously do). And, last night, Mathis pulled off a thorough Twitter prank.

It all starts with a $17,747.86 dinner bill from Del Frisco’s second-year-player Lane Johnson tweeted out last week. In light of last year’s Miami Dolphins hazing scandal, Johnson took some criticism for the tweet. That included a Sporting News piece that originally identified Mathis and teammate Todd Herremans, both 10 year veterans, as rookies — a piece Mathis joked about on Twitter.

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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Reporter Plagiarized from Philadelphia Inquirer

A report in The New Republic today reveals that, in 2010, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges had plagiarized in a story about Camden he submitted to Harper’s. The pilfered prose? A 2009 series about Camden by then-Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Matt Katz.

Katz, who’s now at WNYC, says he hasn’t seen the piece that Harper’s editors determined Hedges cribbed from him. It didn’t run in the magazine. Hedges, a foreign correspondent for The New York Times for 15 years in the ’90s and early 2000s, has become a favorite political journalist of many liberals in the last 10 years. TNR’s Christopher Ketcham writes that he became defensive when confronted with the plagiarism.

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The Last Days of the Philadelphia Inquirer?

Philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest speak at a news conference after a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27th, 2014, in Philadelphia. Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Let’s stipulate many things about Gerry Lenfest. That he’s a good man. A boon to the community. Somebody whose philanthropy has enriched this city beyond the usual ways of measuring. Philadelphia is better, much better, for his devotion to us.

But he is not the man to lead the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com into the future — which is the plan, now that the auction he and Lewis Katz won two weeks ago has ended with Wednesday’s official closing, putting the organizations into his hands. His leadership may, in fact, signal the effective demise of those publications.

Let’s be blunt about the reasons why.

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Lewis Katz: I Really Thought Norcross Wanted to Own It, Didn’t You?

Philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest, left, and businessman Lewis Katz arrive for a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Katz and Lenfest are taking over Philadelphia's two largest newspapers with an $88 million auction bid. AP Photo | Matt Rourke

Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest, left, and businessman Lewis Katz. AP Photo | Matt Rourke

There were a lot of people shocked Tuesday when Lewis Katz and Gerry Lenfest emerged the winners over George Norcross in the bidding for Philadelphia’s two major newspapers. Among those who didn’t expect Katz to lead his team to victory? Katz himself.

That seemed apparent in the press conference right after the auction, when Katz and Lenfest repeatedly declined to answer questions about their plans for the papers. But Katz’s own statements in recent days have buttressed that notion that he expected George Norcross — who led a “majority faction” of owners — to out-bid him.

Instead, Norcross walked away, reportedly profiting on the initial investment made in the newspapers in 2012.

Katz? He won himself an $88 million turnaround project — an undertaking he wasn’t quite prepared for, if his own comments are any guide.

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