How the Daily News Cover Changed Overnight — Then Changed Again

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It may be that this morning’s news is the first you’re hearing of the events in Ferguson, Mo. — how a young unarmed black man was shot by police, how residents protested, and how a militarized police force evidently overreacted — and if it is, well, prepare to get angry.

What’s interesting, from a Philly perspective, is how those events forced changes to the cover of today’s Philadelphia Daily News. Twice. And how that happened says a lot about how media works in 2014.

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Will Steacy: Chronicling Difficult Times at the Inquirer and Daily News

"DON SAPATKIN, DEPUTY SCIENCE & MEDICINE EDITOR, 6:44PM, 2009" by Will Steacy. Used with permission.

“DON SAPATKIN, DEPUTY SCIENCE & MEDICINE EDITOR, 6:44PM, 2009″ by Will Steacy. Used with permission.

Will Steacy isn’t a newspaper man, but he comes from a long line of them: Five generations’ worth — including an ancestor who started The Evening Dispatch in York nearly 140 years ago, and his own father, Thomas, a former editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer who was laid off in 2011. “Since I am not in the newspaper business, I fear that this tradition will now come to an end,” he says.

Not that he isn’t an experienced media hand. While his father was still with the paper, Steacy began what turned into a five-year-project to photograph workers at the Inquirer and Daily News as they struggled with layoffs and other changes wrought by the collapse of the industry.

He’s now attempting to turn that project into a book — Deadline — and raising funds to complete it through Kickstarter.

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Metro Buys City Paper; Layoffs Ensue

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[Update 2:35 pm] Jennifer Clark, who will be the associate publisher of both newspapers, said they will continue to operate with separate editorial identities.

“We are very much committed to maintaining separate editiorial style and function … with some obvious sharing of resources in the back office and production,” Clark told Philly Mag. “City Paper is great at investigative journalism, that’s a weekly format. Metro’s great at news you can use, quick bites of information. We plan to continue those unique styles, and the voice that they each have.”

Clark would not comment on the terms of the sale — no word on how much money changed hands — nor would she comment on the layoffs at City Paper that accompanied the sale. Publisher Nancy Stuski was reportedly out as part of the sale, as well as a staff writer, some sales and art staffers. Clark said only: “That was done by the selling party.”

She also declined to describe the process that culminated in the sale, saying discussions proceeded during “a pretty condensed period.”

“I think it’s a great thing for both parties to have a stronger collaboration, potential to work together where it matters, but to maintain two important brands in Philadelphia. It’ll provide a great service to our readers and our advertisers.”

[Original 2:09 pm] As expected,  Metro US, owner of the free Metro Philadelphia daily tabloid, has purchased City Paper, an alt-weekly and longtime fixture of the city’s media scene. A number of City Paper staffers were reportedly laid off as part of the deal.

Here’s the press release announcing the deal:

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The Long Fall of Philly Newspapers

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Oh, what an ugly difference a dozen years can make.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the newspaper business was a happy one, fed by fat profit margins and a lack of competition in most cities. Philadelphia was no different: Yes, it had two major daily papers, but they shared an owner, reached different audiences — and maximized revenue.

What’s happened since then has been brutal. Everybody knows about the bankruptcy, revolving door ownership, and multiple rounds of layoffs that the Inquirer and Daily News — along with their digital cousin, Philly.com — have experienced in recent years. But a new document obtained by Philadelphia magazine shows just how deep the pain went.

The document is called “Interstate General Media: EBITDA Trend – 2000-2012.” (EBITDA stands for “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization” and is one way to measure a company’s profitability.) And it reveals how the finances of Philadelphia’s leading newspapers imploded during that time — a period covering four owners: Knight Ridder, McClatchy, Brian Tierney, and finally the hedge fund owners who brought the newspapers out of bankruptcy. The last two years — that include two different sets of local ownership, one headed by George Norcross, the more recent one by Gerry Lenfest — are not included.

The document reveals:

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The Paywall Gets a Little Lower at the Inky Website

The hard and high paywall is dead. Long live the somewhat lowered paywall.

More than a year after the Inquirer and Daily News unveiled their new websites — hidden behind “hard” paywalls that required a paid subscription (or, more often, an access code) to read — the paywalls are softening a bit. Starting today, readers who go to Inquirer.com via links on Facebook or Twitter will get to read the story for free.

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News Startup Drops “Brother.ly” Name

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The new, less bro-ish logo.

Even before they’ve launched, the creators of a new digital news service for Philadelphia are showing they can discard a bad idea in a hurry. Which is why that forthcoming service — previously named Brother.ly — is now BillyPenn.com.

Critics had sniffed at the former name, nicknaming it “Bro.therly” and suggesting the moniker was exclusionary. Read more »

Is Upstart Metro Buying City Paper?

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Metro, the free daily tabloid newspaper, is reportedly looking to buy Philadelphia City Paper, the stalwart alt-weekly that has been buffeted in recent years by the newspaper industry’s headwinds.

Several sources suggested on Tuesday afternoon that the sale had been agreed to, but according to City Paper publisher Nancy Stuski, the situation between the papers was still in flux.

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Journalism Critics Question Philadelphia Daily News Cover

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Oh, yeah, we should probably make note of this Daily News cover today. The paper has a 2,700-word piece on sex slavery in Philadelphia. A lot of it is harrowing — a pimp named King Kobra would “send the young women who worked for him into the Gallery at Market East to try to recruit new girls,” Morgan Zalot writes — and yet it has to share space on the cover with Sexy Singles. With Sexy Singles Day 2: The Swimsuit Edition. There’s not even a Monkee in it this year!

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Everyone in Journalism Has an Agenda

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You read here every day a wide variety of stories. Some offer advice. Some offer amusement. Some may make you jump for joy, while others may make your blood boil. All of them fall into that broad category we call journalism, and most of them are produced by people who, like me, call themselves professional journalists.

Why do we scribblers and talkers and picture-takers take up this craft? The answers are probably as varied as the people who practice it, but I think the best among us do it for one reason: we think this world can be a little better for our efforts.

That was certainly what motivated John Siegenthaler, who as editor of The Tennessean in Nashville put his paper solidly behind the Civil Rights Movement at a time when many Southern newspapers ignored it or worse. Siegenthaler, who died July 11th, also championed freedom of speech and the press and called journalism “the most important thing I could have done with my life.”

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Interstate General Media Spokesman Mark Block Has Resigned

Mark Block, the spokesman for Interstate General Media, publishers of the Inquirer and Daily News, has resigned. He is being replaced by Jonathan Tevis.

Block, whose career spanned a number of ownership groups at the papers and Philly.com, was often the face of the company during difficult times; big internal emails often went out under his name.

According to Linkedin, Tevis has been rising on the biz side of the newspapers since 2006. He’d taken a more public role since Gerry Lenfest’s acquisition of the papers, so this transition isn’t a huge surprise.

Block’s farewell email, below:

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