Once again snatching a defeat from the jaws of victory, embattled Inquirer/Daily News publisher Greg Osberg blew what should have been an easy win and got caught lying to the press about it. Again. At the unveiling of plans for a new illuminated marquee sign atop the main entrance of the Inquirer and Daily News’ new home in the Strawbridge’s building on Market street, KYW’s Mike Dunn asked why the sign in the artist’s rendering only says PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER and there is no DAILY NEWS up there like it is as their old location at 400 N. Broad street? Did this augur darkly about the future of the chronically-endangered DN? That’s when the trouble started. From KYW:
We asked if the Daily News name would be included, as it is at the current headquarters, a landmark building on North Broad Street .
[Inquirer attorney Michael] Sklaroff cut off the interview, huddled privately with his clients, which included Jerry Steinbrink, chief brand officer for the company that owns the newspapers. Then Sklaroff returned to say he’d have no further comment.
(Dunn:) “But I’m just asking a yes or no question. Will it also say ‘Daily News?’ If the answer is ‘I don’t know yet…’ “
(Sklaroff:) “No, the application is as stated.”
(Dunn:) “Which is simply what?”
(Sklaroff:) “The application states for the Philadelphia Inquirer.” [via KYW]
Later Dunn followed up with Osberg and, like he did a few weeks prior with the New York Times’ David Carr, when confronted with a difficult question, he lied to a reporter. And as reporters are wont to do, he made a few phone calls and then exposed that lie. Again from KYW:
The publisher of both newspapers, Greg Osberg, later told KYW Newsradio that other portions of the headquarters are to include the Daily News logo. He says the Historical Commission had insisted that only one brand name appear on the marquee and had rejected the company’s proposal to use the sides of the canopy for multiple brands.
Staffers at the Historical Commission, however, deny Osberg’s claim. They say the brand name “The Philadelphia Inquirer” was the company’s first and only proposal for the marquee, and that neither the firm nor the site’s developer ever requested — or even discussed — using other branding with commission members. They say no restriction on the language used in the marquee was ever placed on the applicant by the commission. [via KYW]
How you can continue to stake a claim to credible leadership of a pair of newspapers while repeatedly demonstrating such a jaw-dropping naivete about the basic mechanics of journalism — i.e. when you say things to reporters they will then check to make sure they are true — continues to elude us. Perhaps the papers’ new owners can answer that question for us.
RELATED: As of this moment, much of the newsroom anxiety is focused on possible cabinet changes after Marimow takes over May 1st. He said last week that Stan Wischnowski, his predecessor and successor, would stick around as one of his top deputies. The management styles of Wischnowski and Marimow are polar opposites, which has some Inky staffers concerned. By all accounts, Wischnowski is a true collaborator. He seeks coworkers’ counsel—and takes it seriously—before making a decision. He is open to change. Marimow, on the other hand, tends to keep his own counsel. Once he makes a decision, it’s buried in concrete. As a manager, this has been his Achilles’ heel. If you are in the warm glow of Marimow’s orbit, you will be seen and protected. If you are not, your existence holds no particular meaning. There is no middle ground. The same was said about legendary Inky editor Gene Roberts. Like Roberts, Marimow’s comfort zone is limited to an anointed group of acolytes, predominantly male. MORE