2015: The Year in Philly Media

2015 in Philly Media

In a way, covering the big stories is easy.

When there’s a big story to be covered, it’s easy to forget we’re in an era of profound, sometimes painful evolution in the Philadelphia media scene. Maybe the city’s major newspapers had to cut nearly 50 journalists during the holidays, but the big story demands that editors at legacy media outlets forget about diminishing resources for a second and throw everything they have it — and that editors at startup outlets, well, forget their still-insufficient resources and try to report bigger and better than their staffs would suggest.

One look at 2015 would tell you that three or four really big stories happened in Philadelphia this year — the Amtrak crash, the visit of Pope Francis, the race to succeed Mayor Nutter, and the conglomeration of scandals, miseries and indignities that we’ll just go ahead and lump together under the “Porngate” brand — and sure enough, there was an astonishing amount of good journalism from a range of sources about each of these stories.

But there was good journalism being done in the quieter moments too. And not always from expected sources. Those stories and sources deserve recognition, too. Read more »

Mythbuster: Suicide Is Not More Common During the Holidays

Going "Home for the Holidays" can be chore — but it's no worse than during the rest of the year.

Going “Home for the Holidays” can be chore — but it’s no worse than during the rest of the year.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center at Penn has some good news for people who appreciate accuracy in media: Last year, for the first time in four years, there was a decrease in the number of news stories that falsely associated holiday time with suicide. Annenberg’s analysis notes that the lowest suicide rate is between mid-November and January, yet for many years the majority of news outlets tended to perpetuate the holiday-suicide myth rather than contradict it. Read more »

Sam Katz to Produce Kathleen Kane Documentary

Sam Katz, left. Kathleen Kane, right. (Kane photo, AP)

Sam Katz, left. Kathleen Kane, right. (Kane photo, AP)

The producers of Law & Order couldn’t top this if they tried: a gripping drama about a rising star politician whose charges of racism and misbehavior have laid low the careers of several other high-ranking politicians—and who finds herself in a fight for her own political life that she may well lose.

What’s more, the drama is unfolding around us right now, in real life, and documentary filmmaker Sam Katz is planning to tell the whole story. The film, to be called The Kane Mutiny, is about Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and the myriad scandals surrounding her.

Katz announced the film Thursday afternoon.

“This is very different” from a typical political intrigue, he told Philly Mag. “I want to make a film that people will want to watch, one that opens up a different prism into American politics and government.”

Read more »

“Gerry the Grinch” Website Receives Cease-and-Desist Letter

gerry lenfest parody site

It would appear the fake Gerry Lenfest has the real Gerry Lenfest’s attention.

In the aftermath of the layoffs at Philadelphia Media Network — which owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com — an anonymous critic created the “Gerry the Grinch” Twitter account, and posted longer-form missives at GerryLenfest.com, both criticizing (and sometimes pleading with) Lenfest for the job reductions. Now a lawyer from PMN has sent the site’s owner a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that website’s domain name be transferred to the ownership of Lenfest himself.

The letter was posted Thursday afternoon at the Twitter account.

Read more »

Daily News Cover Compares Trump to Hitler

[Updated at noon with comment from editor]

Nothing subtle about this:

It will be interesting to see the reaction today. What else is there to say? People were wondering if the tabloid paper could maintain its sassiness in the wake of deep-cutting layoffs and the move to combine newsrooms with the Inquirer. Consider this, perhaps, a declaration of intent.

“We’re never done being sassy,” said Mike Days, the Daily News‘ editor, late this morning. By noon, the cover had been featured in the Washington Post, at Talking Points Memo, and on Poynter, among other outlets.

“The phone’s not ringing off the hook, but it’s been retweeted a number of times,” Days said.

Days said that during Monday news meetings, the focus was heavily on Trump’s comments that Muslims should be banned from entering the United States.

“There was widespread agreement we needed to find a way to lead with it today,” Days said. “We were able to marry a really good photo to what I felt were the right words.”

And if the Daily News’ future has seemed somewhat in doubt of late, Days suggested that the cover — along with similar covers by the New York Daily News — shows the benefit of having multiple newspaper outlets in a market: That gives at least one the freedom to make provocative statements on the front page.

“We call it the way we see it,” Days said. “When we do it, we really mean it.”

An Incomplete List of Things Deemed the “New Philadelphia Story”

rooster-soup-new-philadelphia-story-940x540

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal wrote about Rooster Soup Company. Funded in part by a Kickstarter backing, Rooster Soup Co. is the brainchild of Bill Golderer, Steven Cook and Mike Solomonov. Profits from the restaurant, which will open next year, will fund the Broad Street Hospitality Collaborative.

It’s all really cool. But the WSJ’s headline struck me as funny: “The New Philadelphia Story: Eat, Pay, Give.” While there are three people involved in the creation of Rooster Soup Co., much like the three main characters of the 1940 film (and 1939 play) The Philadelphia Story, that’s where the similarity ends. The Philadelphia Story is a screwball comedy of remarriage; none of the particulars in Rooster Soup Co. are marrying, let alone remarrying, each other.

Headline references are supposed to make sense. My father, longtime deputy sports editor at the Daily News has a way with headlines that I will never match. When the Eagles signed Michael Vick in 2009, people suggested a “Vick’s VapoRub” headline to him constantly. Cute, right? The problem is: How the hell would this headline ever make any sense? Only if Michael Vick took up vaping, and it led to a drop in performance, could this headline be plausible. But back in 2009 people still called vaping “smoking e-cigarettes,” so it wasn’t really a possibility. Read more »

Philly’s “Isis” Radio Station Considers Changing Its Name

iRadioPhilly logo

iRadioPhilly is a group of Internet radio stations local to the city. The streaming radio site broadcast the pope’s visit and the World Meeting of Families, and has a channel dedicated to Philly artists and talk radio.

It also has one dedicated to pop hits, aimed at women. Five years ago, iRadioPhilly came up with a name for that station. It chose Isis. Whoops. Read more »

Meet the Crazy Guys Who Are Starting a Newspaper In Philadelphia

Matthew Albasi (left) and max Pulcini (right)

Max Pulcini (left) and Matthew Albasi (right)

Last year, a pair of 2013 Temple University journalism graduates took over Fishtown’s Spirit newspaper, transforming it from your average print-only community newspaper to a modern publication and online presence that does hard-hitting, hyperlocal reporting. Now they’re poised to do the same thing in a section of Philadelphia that they’re calling Penn’s Garden, which includes the neighborhoods of Brewerytown, Fairmount, Francisville, Spring Garden, Strawberry Mansion, North Central, Ludlow and Poplar. Read more »

Can Laid-Off Philly Journos Build Their Own News Organization?

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

George Miller isn’t quite sure what a new local news organization would look like, nor how one would get funding for a startup — but he does believe there’s room in Philly’s media ecosystem for another player, especially now that the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com are laying off nearly 50 journalists and support staffers.

That’s why Miller, publisher of Jump Philly music magazine and an associate professor at Temple University, is hosting “Let’s Start Our Own News Org” tonight, a brainstorming session for those who care about Philadelphia and the media who cover the city.

“Basically, the idea was, in two weeks there are people who are losing their jobs,” he said of the layoffs at Philadelphia Media Network. “It seems like a lot of people are leaving journalism and aren’t all that upset about it, but I was upset about it — I don’t want to lose all that talent from the city.” Read more »

Pittsburgh Newspaper to Lay Off 153 Staffers

Less than a week after nearly 50 journalists were laid off at Philadelphia Media Network, a paper across the state is laying off even more workers.

Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review announced it is laying off 153 staffers as part of a “sweeping restructuring.”

“We needed to take a close look at our bottom line in the midst of an evolving newspaper industry,” Trib Total Media president Jennifer Bertetto said. “We are doing this to match the changing needs of our readers, subscribers, advertisers, business partners, and our own employees, in order to build an exciting and profitable media future for all of those parties.”

Today’s announcement means more than 200 layoffs have been announced at Pennsylvania newspapers in the last week — and the number could reach 300, depending on how the Tribune-Review’s plans shake out.

Read more »

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