Are the Inquirer and Philly.com at War?
City Paper’s Dan Denvir has a report on trouble brewing between the Inquirer and Philly.com, the hybrid website that features a mix of Inky, Daily News and (to a lesser extent) its own original reporting. There’s a lot going on in the piece, but the conflict may boil down to this:
One of metro Philadelphia’s highest-traffic websites, the site has long been criticized for downplaying news in favor of what one newsroom source called a “ship of entertainment and sex.” But the episode has pushed a brewing conflict between Inquirer news staff and the website to a breaking point: Under the Norcross’ leadership, Philly.com is increasingly competing against the dailies’ newsrooms with its own writers. Philly.com never announced that they were becoming a competing news operation — it just sort of happened.
Denvir also recounts how Philly.com has sidestepped journalistic norms, giving the governor a column and doing fluff interviews with him, while Philly.com’s Lexie Norcross Tweeted in support of Cory Booker, whom her father—New Jersey Democratic boss-slash-owner-of-Philadelphia-newspapers George Norcross—had endorsed for Senate.
It sounds, ultimately, that Inky reporters are mad that Philly.com relies on their content, yet doesn’t use all of it, consigning what’s left over to a hell of paywall undiscoverability at Inquirer.com. Reporters now believe the paywalled sites were set up to fail, while Philly.com is being nurtured. The result of all this fussing, Denvir says—relying on anonymous sources—is that conflict is brewing between George Norcross and co-owner Lewis Katz.
Clear as mud? How about this: The whole operation is, once again, apparently a huge mess. Where the hell is Jeff Bezos when you need him?
We’ve noted the apparent maturing of Philly.com as a news source in its own right, and even, lazily, let our subscriptions to the paywalled newspapers drop because of it. Possibly it’s time to reconsider the latter action.