A judge’s decision in Delaware last week, favoring George Norcross’ path to ending the stalemate at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com means we will get some clear answers very soon about the future of these publications.
The main question is: Will the dailies continue to be serious publications?
The private auction this month among the owners of Interstate General Media could leave the properties in Norcross’ hands. Or the Lewis Katz-led group could bring out even more cash.
Norcross is a political power broker who has a vested interest in pushing his own policies and candidates. How that squares with running independent newspapers is beyond me. How can we, as readers, be sure that the papers will aggressively seek out stories of malfeasance and wrongdoing wherever they arise? What stories won’t be written?
What I do know is that I am already a bit wary of what I’m reading in the Inquirer. Why did they bring out the World War III type for the first story on Kathleen Kane’s decision to end the sting operation that netted five Democrats? Was the 50th anniversary of Wawa worth the display it got on Page One on a Sunday? What’s with all this ink about a Century 21 store coming to Philly when every serious shopper has visited that New York City mecca?
Good journalistic reasons may underpin each of these decisions, but a seed of doubt has been planted in my mind.
Walter Annenberg once used the Inquirer as his personal political weapon, and it took years to turn the publication into a Pulitzer-worthy newspaper. That was accomplished by world-class editors who hired the best reporters they could find, paid them well and set them free to dig for stories. That is what this “corrupt and contented” big city needs and deserves.
Whoever wins this fight needs to know that those of us who once worked for these publications — an alumni army — are watching the outcome. Don't let us down.