Back in 1986, The New Republic hosted a contest to see if anyone could find a newspaper article with a headline more boring than “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative,” which their editor came across in the New York Times. To date, nobody has. But an item written today by the Daily News’s Chris Brennan comes close.
There is so much wrong with the Deadspin story “Philly Radio Host Gets All Homophobic In Email Fight With Listener,” I am not sure where to begin.
The story was leaked to them by an Internet troll who has reportedly been baiting and heckling Mike Missanelli, a radio talk show host on 97.5 the Fanatic, for years. In the Deadspin story the troll is allowed to remain anonymous. Yet before running the story, Deadspin never reached out to Missanelli to get his side of the story. I know because I did reach out to him. It was easy and he responded immediately. It is a basic tenet of journalism to attempt to get both sides of the story.
Or as Mike Missanelli puts it,“Deadspin doesn’t even know the IDENTITY of the guy and they ran it! Journalistically corrupt.” Missanelli went on to call the person who leaked the story “a lonely loser psycho, allowed to create drama in this day and age simply through social media.”
The meeting is lore, now: a story about a table for two that likely caused all South Jersey to wobble, ever so slightly, on its axis. The setting: Lamberti’s, aflutter with white tablecloths, occupied by the swellegant, an Italian seafood restaurant that serves as something of a home field for one of the men at the table, George Norcross III.
His name means different things to different people. Norcross earned millions in the insurance business, as executive chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew. He earned a scary reputation as the grinding stone of the Democratic Party in South Jersey, choosing who ran for what political office till he accumulated so much wealth and power that he became downright kingly.
Critics plaster Norcross with uncomplimentary terms, like “the Jersey Devil.” Admirers cite his more recent run of philanthropy, thanking him for building a better South Jersey. Friends and enemies often see his avalanche of thick white hair at Lamberti’s, in Cherry Hill, but the 57-year-old Norcross added this March 2012 stop to his calendar upon request, and reluctantly. He would maybe order a bowl of linguine or something.
Across from him sat Lewis Katz. His name also means different things to different people: An entrepreneur of many trades, Katz has worked, successfully, as an attorney, a political power broker to governors Jim Florio and Ed Rendell, a shareholder in the New York Yankees and New Jersey Nets and Devils. But he made his biggest bundles of loot in comparatively schlubby businesses like parking lots and billboards. Tall and trim, with thinning hair he combs over a wide bald spot, Katz was the one who called and asked for this meeting.
Update: Definitely a real story!
There is a story so strange in the paper, erm, website of record this morning, it feels like an April Fools day article in a college newspaper. Yesterday, reports Philly.com, the WIP crew was filming a
Wing Bowl promo segment Super Bowl commercial spoof that required host Angelo Cataldi to scarf a cheesesteak. He choked on it, couldn’t breathe, almost died, then was saved by the deft Heimlich maneuver of one Spike Eskin.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting last week announced a $1.5 million grant to WHYY and public radio stations in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh to form “Keystone Crossroads,” a joint urban reporting program to be based at WHYY. Chris Satullo, WHYY’s vice president for news and civic dialogue, talked with Philly Mag about the project, about the problems facing Pennsylvania cities, and whether pushback can be expected from rural parts of the state.
AP reports: “The Corporation for Public Broadcasting will fund a new journalism center in Philadelphia to allow public stations to work together on important projects. The nonprofit corporation has awarded a $1.5 million grant for the local journalism center, to be called Keystone Crossroads and housed at WHYY. The center will be a collaboration of public media stations across the state, including public broadcast stations in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. The center will focus on challenges facing the cities, including budget deficits and crumbling infrastructures.
The Philadelphia Newspaper Guild, which represents more than 500 employees at the company, filed a petition to intervene today in their parent company’s ongoing ownership dispute.
A status hearing took place this morning at which attorney Lisa Lori appeared, representing the Guild. “The Guild has seen nothing but pay cuts [in recent years]” she said afterward. “Unpaid furloughs. … They want an equity stake.”
According to an email leaked to Philadelphia magazine, Nancy Phillips, as her long-time companion Lewis Katz was contemplating purchasing a controlling interest in the city’s biggest media company, made sweeping recommendations about strategies for turning around the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, including specific executive firings and the possible elimination of the Daily News.
“Darling,” the March 17, 2012 email, from Phillips to Katz, begins.
If you care about Philadelphia’s newspapers — if you want to see the Inquirer and Daily News on the stands at your local Wawa, say, five years from now — let me suggest, ever so gently, that you root against Lewis Katz and Gerry Lenfest today as they head into yet another court showdown with the other owners of Interstate General Media.
This, of course, means rooting for George Norcross, and that’s a difficult proposition to sell because, well, he’s George Norcross, and, well, what else is there to say? One might as well root for the Death Star.