Is Nancy Phillips Really the Bad Guy of the Inquirer Performance Review Flap?

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

At this point, there’s probably no journalist in Philadelphia you’d want to trade places with less than Nancy Phillips. Trouble just seems to follow her around these days.

Phillips (below), the city editor of the Inquirer, is also — somewhat famously — the companion of Lewis Katz, one of the paper’s feuding co-owners. In her role as city editor, she has also been involved in delivering job evaluations to many of the paper’s journalists. Given that most of those journalists have never before been given a job evaluation until this year, the task was bound to be touchy even in the best of times.

These are not the best of times at the paper. And so Phillips finds herself, once again, at the center of controversy.

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First-Ever Inquirer and Daily News Performance Reviews Rankle Newsroom

inquirer boxIn many workplaces, job evaluations are part of the routine, a once-a-year cause for heartburn and/or celebration of another year of hard work completed. The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, though, aren’t run-of-the mill workplaces — and journalists at both papers are receiving what, for many of them, is a first-ever job evaluation.

It’s a brand-new process that has fueled rumors, challenged morale, and further disturbed the equilibrium of newsrooms already unsettled by legal feuding among the newspapers’ owners.

“In general, there is nothing wrong with a company evaluating its employees,” said Diane Mastrull, an Inquirer business writer, and an officer in the Newspaper Guild that represents journalists at both papers. “The problem is the chaotic, demoralizing context of this maiden evaluation.”

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Black & White and Dead All Over? The “Darth Vader of Journalism” Strikes Back




In the fall of 2007, I was asked to interview Norman Mailer at a Free Library book event. At the cocktail reception beforehand, I found myself huddled in conversation with the legendary author. He was, by now, a kindly old man, unsteady on his feet. I peppered Mailer with questions: We talked about the march on the Pentagon in 1967 that was the setting of his greatest book, Armies of The Night, a stinging critique of establishment journalism. He was charming and self-deprecating. There was little of that rebellious, pugnacious spirit that had come to be his calling card. Until, that is, we segued to the subject of newspapers, which were increasingly imperiled. In the Sixties, Mailer had founded the Village Voice because something new was desperately needed. He wanted to know: Where was today’s journalistic disruption?

“They get what they deserve,” he spat out. “When was the last time you read something in a newspaper — even in the vaunted New York Times — that made you think? America is allergic to ideas, and that’s not unrelated to the principal failing of journalism: It’s as if they don’t see it as their mission to publish anything interesting or stimulating or challenging. So I say, let them go. Good riddance.”

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In Triple Package, Do Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld Actually Believe What They’re Saying?

amy-chua-facebook-940x540Amy Chua is the self-proclaimed “Tiger Mom” who came into the collective consciousness in 2011 when the Wall Street Journal published an excerpt of her book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother under the headline “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”

As you read her work, Chua blasts holes into her own arguments, one minute decrying stereotyping and the next relying heavily on them to make her points. Within the first line of the piece Chua concedes (although I don’t think this was her intention) that the image of “successful kids” of Chinese parents is rooted in stereotype. She goes on to clean up the mess she’s created in using broad terms with the following:

“I’m using the term ‘Chinese mother’ loosely. I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. Conversely, I know some mothers of Chinese heritage, almost always born in the West, who are not Chinese mothers, by choice or otherwise. I’m also using the term ‘Western parents’ loosely. Western parents come in all varieties.”

She then goes on to retract her concession, and pivots again to acknowledge that we are “squeamish” about cultural stereotyping.

Recently, in a piece for the New York Times titled “What Defines Success?” Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, pen an essay in advance of their new book, The Triple Package, that is beyond nauseating.

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Can Philly Newspapers Be Saved?
Should the Daily News Close?
Is There a Hero in the Ownership Battle?

inquirer-dailynews-owners-norcross-katz-marquee

Writer Steve Volk is a longtime observer of the Philadelphia media scene — so he brings a substantial foundation to this month’s Philly Mag print story that takes readers inside the furious battle for control of the city’s two major daily newspapers.  It is also, he swears, the end of his media reporting days.

He talked this week about what he learned reporting the story, what he’s learned from his time on the beat, and what’s needed to finally, fully save the Inquirer and Daily News once and for all.

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End The Philadelphia Inferiority Complex Now!

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

I’d only lived in Philadelphia for about three years when The New York Times published the article everyone is still pissed about. Yes, the one that, despite its largely positive portrayal of Philly as an attractive urban destination, contained the phrase “sixth borough.”

I’ll take a brief pause here to allow you to dust off your pitchforks and light your torches.

That piece came out in 2005 and it’s still brought up in casual conversation, usually preceded or abutted by some half-muttered, bile-filled variation on “FUCK NEW YORK.” Though I’m of the mind that the statute of limitations on such traced-back hostility should probably be shorter than a near-decade, I understand why. Without using the R-word, it’s a byproduct of that locally cultivated chip on our shoulders, the same geographically granted spirit that motivates us to wear shirts like this and post that Coach Kelly clip on Facebook.

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Mike Missanelli Responds: Deadspin Is Journalistically Corrupt

roster-mike-missanelliThere 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.”

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