Larry Platt, Buzz Bissinger, Others Creating The Philadelphia Citizen

High-profile names decide to declare independence from the city's media scene.

Looks like there’s going to be a new media organization in town: The Philadelphia Citizen—led by former Philly Mag and Daily News editor Larry Platt—looks to challenge all of Platt’s former employers, as well as the TV news establishment here.

“The state of local journalism has gone from dire to absurd,” the Citizen announces on its new website. “Two owners of the city’s newspaper of record sue their own publisher—for firing their editor. A local news anchor, hyping a North Philly murder*, can’t do better than Tweeting a lame Breaking Bad joke. A prominent local magazine features a 5,000-word story about a wartime sniper that turns out to be completely made up.”

The result? “Local media is broken and local democracy is imperiled.”

The Citizen then promises to create “solutions-based journalism” featuring “action tools” that let readers “give feedback to elected representatives in real time.” There will also be TED-like events featuring authors and innovators from around the community. In short: It sounds like the database-driven social journalism that Axis Philly has attempted, married to the relentless  focus on power that Platt promised when he was the Daily News editor married to, uh, PhillyMag’s own ThinkFest series.

What Platt has in his pocket is an impressive array of local citizens. Local attorney Ajay Raju—whom Platt once promoted as a mayoral candidate—is “managing partner” of the board. Former William Penn Foundation president Jeremy Nowak is the “chief innovation officer,” while Buzz Bissinger is an adviser to and columnist for the venture. Committee of Seventy’s Zack Stalberg is on the advisory board, as is Slate’s Jacob Weisberg. 

No word on when we’ll start seeing journalism and/or events from The Philadelphia Citizen. It seems, though, the mediasphere in this town is about to get somewhat wilder and woolier.

* The murder was actually in Southwest Philly.