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the naked city


the thebellcurve CP’s Quality-o-Life-o-Meter

[ -2 ]

Buzz Bissinger writes an impassioned article in the New York Times saying that the Inquirer and Daily News could lose their journalistic integrity if Ed Rendell’s investor group buys them. He concludes by threatening to add all the “sick sex stuff” to the Kindle version of A Prayer for the City.

[ -2 ]

Darrell Clarke says he planned to eliminate the City Council tradition of not holding a session during the week of a federal holiday, but there was a miscommunication this time around. Also, this is his last cigarette, his diet starts tomorrow and he’ll put The Wire in his queue — just lay off.


Rendell says he’s willing to consider a pledge or outside review to avoid newsroom tampering, and would be fine with the newspapers writing stories critical of him. “Nothing sticks to me anyway,” he says. “Except Velcro, of course. Right now I’ve got a watch band, a messenger bag and some kid’s sneaker all stuck to my back.”

F E B R U A R Y 2 3 - F E B R U A R Y 2 9 , 2 0 1 2 | C I T Y PA P E R . N E T

[ + 3 ] After being told not to write about the

6 | P H I L A D E L P H I A C I T Y PA P E R |


possible sale, journalists at both papers sign a petition against censorship in the newsroom. Among the co-signers are Joe Sixpack, The Stinkmeister, the guy who hands out pictures of his balls as gifts, Stu Bykofsky and — dammit. Can’t read the rest. A giant pop-up ad is in the way. Now it’s wiggling so we can’t click on the little x.

[ -4 ]

A 17-year-old girl is tazed on the head during a fight near Overbrook High School. By coincidence: Tazed on the Head plays Connie’s Ric-Rac tonight with Pukemon, Carl Greene’s Grabby Hands and The Bicycle Gropers.

[ + 1 ] The Phillies believe their new Phanatic

Dangle Hat will be the team’s best-selling souvenir this season. “Contrary to the rumors, this item is not a hat that looks like a big fuzzy green Phanatic penis,” sighs spokesman. “This is a small fuzzy green hat you put on your penis, during rainouts and such.”

[ -2 ]

A naked man is arrested in a Chester County Walmart. He shrugs. “Guess they’re not dangle fanatics.”

This week’s total: -6 | Last week’s total: -1

BLACK-AND-WHITE ELEPHANT: Developer Bart Blatstein now owns the historic Inquirer building; he’d like a pair of newspapers to match. NEAL SANTOS

[ media ]

SHOP THE PRESSES After weeks of censorship and rumors about the sale of the Inquirer and Daily News, the papers’ future remains murky. By Daniel Denvir


arlier this month, upper management at Philadelphia Media Network (PMN), the parent company of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News and, performed what, in a newsroom, is a dangerous bit of magic: They made a blog post disappear. In this case, the post was by Daily News reporter David Gambacorta, outlining developer Bart Blatstein’s plan to assemble a coalition of investors to buy PMN, which is also the subject of a bid by a group including former Gov. Ed Rendell, South Jersey political boss George Norcross and Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider. The prominent act of censorship — followed by more chilling omissions, tight controls apparently exercised from the very top of the company and the apparent exclusion of competing bidders including Blatstein and philanthropist Ray Perelman — has garnered a chorus of headlines from the New York Times to Jim Romenesko’s popular journalism blog. It has also offered an alarming prelude to what Philly journalism might look like under the tight grip of Rendell, Norcross and others in a powerful local ownership group. “I’ve been on the inside, so I know that when the boss has an interest he doesn’t even have to articulate it,” says former Daily News editor and current Committee of Seventy president Zack

Stalberg. It’s a matter of changing “behavior in such a way as to make the boss happy.” Meanwhile, speculation runs rampant as to why Angelo Gordon and Alden Global Capital, the two hedge funds with majority stakes in PMN, seem so intent on selling to the Rendell-Norcross team. A few connections are apparent: Rendell has praised the management skills of Gregory Osberg, the PMN publisher and chief executive known for his high-profile (but not necessarily successful) initiatives to remake the company for the digital age. And City Paper has learned that Rendell has a relationship with Roger Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners Inc., the firm managing the sale. In 2008, Rendell, a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, rounded up Altman and nine others to pledge $12 million to fund a re-vote in Michigan, after the Democratic National Committee revoked the state’s delegates because Michigan had held its primary early, against party rules. PMN vice president Mark Block says the connection will not influence the sale. He also downplayed accusations of censorship, stating Gambacorta’s reporting was misleading and, bizarrely, calling the post a “press release” rather than “an original-content story.” Since then, though, other acts of censorship emerged: the Inquirer killed a story about the sale, and scrubbed an online version of another article of details of the company’s 2011 financial performance. Last Tuesday, Teamsters entered the fray, protesting censorship and the bidding process outside the Inquirer building. The union’s

The censorship may be an alarming prelude.

>>> continued on adjacent page

Philadelphia City Paper, February 23rd, 2012  

Philadelphia's Trusted News and Entertainment Source

Philadelphia City Paper, February 23rd, 2012  

Philadelphia's Trusted News and Entertainment Source