Posts Tagged ‘Richard Ben Cramer’

Authors Who Worked at The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

What a legacy.  Courtesy of Jim intended for the Inquirer and Daily News Alumni Network (but my blog is the only way to include the entire list.)

So proud to have been a part of this crew.

— Bob Frump Sept. 21.

NOTE:  If you have corrections or additions, please add them in comments, and I will forward on to Jim for consideration.

The Philadelphia Daily News deserves its own list with some huge books via Pete Dexter, Laker-Ruderman.

Compiled by Jim Remsen

(Jim Remsen says: The big ad in the NYTimes Book Section for Mark Bowden’s new ‘Hue 1968’ got me thinking about our newsroom colleagues past and present who’ve written books. That got me wondering how many there actually are, which led me to compile this gang listing over the past few days. It’s essentially a cut-and-paste job from Amazon. No doubt some worthy authors are still omitted—because they wrote under pseudonyms, because their work isn’t listed on Amazon or, most likely, because I simply forgot or overlooked them. Feel free to add or correct (as Linda Hasert already has done, above), with my apologies. I did not go back to the pre-Roberts era so Joe McGinniss, for instance, is not included. Nor did I include Daily News folks and thus Dexter, Laker-Ruderman,  etc., are not listed. I begin the compilation with works that inarguably hit the big time (led to movies, major sales, major awards, major impact). After the first 10-15 entries, the list becomes a grab-bag with no judgment or ranking implied. Please read it with that in mind. If someone wants to alphabetize the list to avoid hard feelings, be my guest.)

 

MARK BOWDENHue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam; Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War; Guests of the Ayatollah: The Iran Hostage Crisis: The First Battle in America’s War with Militant Islam; Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw; The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden; Worm: The First Digital World War; Bringing the Heat; The Three Battles of Wanat: And Other True Stories; Doctor Dealer: The Rise and Fall of an All-American Boy and His Multimillion-Dollar Cocaine Empire; Road Work: Among Tyrants, Beasts, Heroes, and Rogues

JENNIFER WEINER Good in Bed; Fly Away Home; The Next Best Thing; Good Men; Then Came You; The Littlest Bigfoot; Certain Girls; Goodnight Nobody; All Fall Down; Who Do You Love; Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing

GENE ROBERTS & HANK KLIBANOFFThe Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation

DON BARLETT & JIM STEELEAmerica: What Went Wrong?; America: Who Stole the Dream? ; The Betrayal of the American Dream; Forevermore, Nuclear Waste in America; Howard Hughes – His Life and Madness; Critical Condition How Health Care in America Became Big Business–and Bad Medicine; The Great American Tax Dodge: How Spiraling Fraud and Avoidance Are Killing Fairness, Destroying the Income Tax, and Costing You

TIM WEINERLegacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA; Enemies: A History of the FBI; One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon; Blank Check: The Pentagon’s Black Budget; Betrayal:: The Story of Aldrich Ames, an American Spy

BUZZ BISSINGERFriday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And A Dream; A Prayer for the City; Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son; After Friday Night Lights: When the Games Ended, Real Life Began. An Unlikely Love Story; Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak, and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager; LeBron’s Dream Team: How Four Friends and I Brought a Championship Home

STEVE LOPEZThe Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music; Third and Indiana; The Sunday Macaroni Club; Land of Giants: Where No Good Deed Goes Unpunished ; Dreams and Schemes: My Decade of Fun in the Sun

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON – The Making of Donald Trump; Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill); Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich–and Cheat Everybody Else; Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality; The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” to Rob You Blind

PEGGY ANDERSONNurse; Children’s Hospital; The Daughters

JOHN GROGANMarley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog ; Marley: A Dog Like No Other; The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir; Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog; (and 8 Marley early readers)

AMANDA BENNETTThe Cost of Hope: A Memoir; The Death of the Organization Man; The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness; The Man Who Stayed Behind; In Memoriam: A Practical Guide to Planning a Memorial Service

DAN BIDDLE & MURRAY DUBINTasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America

MURRAY DUBINSouth Philadelphia: Mummers, Memories, and the Melrose Diner; The Official Book of Wallyball

GENE FOREMANThe Ethical Journalist: Making Responsible Decisions in the Digital Age

MIKE SOKOLOVEDrama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater; Hustle: The Myth, Life, and Lies of Pete Rose; Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women’s Sports; The Ticket Out: Darryl Strawberry and the Boys of Crenshaw

THOMAS HINEPopuluxe; I Want That!: How We All Became Shoppers; The Total Package: The Secret History and Hidden Meanings of Boxes, Bottles, Cans, and Other Persuasive Containers; The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager; Facing Tomorrow: What the Future Has Been, What the Future Can Be; The Eames Lounge Chair: An Icon of Modern Design; The Great Funk: Styles of the Shaggy, Sexy, Shameless 1970s

ROD NORDLANDThe Lovers: Afghanistan’s Romeo and Juliet, the True Story of How They Defied Their Families and Escaped an Honor Killing

SUSAN Q. STRANAHANSusquehanna, River of Dreams

DAVID ZUCCHINO – Myth of the Welfare Queen: A Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist’s Portrait of Women on the Line; Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad

RICHARD BEN CRAMERWhat It Takes: The Way to the White House

JANE EISNERTaking Back the Vote: Getting American Youth Involved in Our Democracy; Who Are We Now? Interpreting the Pew Study on Jewish Identity in America Today

DONALD DRAKEMedical School: The dramatic true story of how four years turned a class of raw students into qualified physicians

MARIAN UHLMAN & DONALD DRAKE – Hard Choices: Health Care at What Cost?

DOREEN CARVAJALThe Forgetting River: A Modern Tale of Survival, Identity, and the Inquisition

JENNIFER LINShanghai Faithful: Betrayal and Forgiveness in a Chinese Christian Family; Sole Sisters: Stories of Women and Running

HANK KLIBANOFF – Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest: Fifty Pieces from the Road

MICHAEL BAMBERGERMen in Green; To the Linksland: A Golfing Adventure; This Golfing Life; Wonderland: A Year in the Life of an American High School; The Green Road Home: Adventures and Misadventures as a Caddie on the PGA Tour; Every Shot I Take

STEVEN REA – Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling with the Stars; Hollywood Café: Coffee with the Stars

GAIUTRA BAHADURCoolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture

BOB ZAUSNERDanger Above: A Tragic Death, An Epic Courtroom Battle; Dying to Have a Baby: A True Story; Bad Brake: Ford Trucks, Deadly When Parked; Two Boys, Divided by Fortune, United by Tragedy: A True Story of the Pursuit of Justice

DOUG CAMPBELL – The Sea’s Bitter Harvest: Thirteen Deadly Days on the North Atlantic; Eight Survived: The Harrowing Story Of The USS Flier And The Only Downed World War Ii Submariners To Survive And Evade Capture

TOM INFIELDFifty Years After the War: The People Who Were There Recall the Major Events of World War II

PETER BINZEN – The Wreck of the Penn Central; The Cop Who Would Be King : The Honorable Frank Rizzo; Whitetown, U. S. A.; Richardson Dilworth: Last of the Bare Knuckled Aristocrats; Nearly Everybody Read It: Snapshots of the Philadelphia Bulletin

STEVE TWOMEYCountdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days to the Attack

VERNON LOEBAll In: The Education of General David Petraeus; Good Hunting: An American Spymaster’s Story; King’s Counsel: A Memoir of War, Espionage, and Diplomacy in the Middle East

BOB FERNANDEZThe Chocolate Trust: Deception, Indenture and Secrets at the $12 Billion Milton Hershey School

AL LUBRANOLimbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams

ARLENE MORGANThe Authentic Voice: The Best Reporting on Race and Ethnicity

LOU URENECKThe Great Fire: One American’s Mission to Rescue Victims of the 20th Century’s First Genocide; Smyrna, September 1922: The American Mission to Rescue Victims of the 20th Century’s First Genocide; Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly-fishing, and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaska; Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine

LISA TRACY – Objects of Our Affection: Uncovering My Family’s Past, One Chair, Pistol, and Pickle Fork at a Time; The Gradual Vegetarian: The Step-by-Step Way to Start Eating the Right Stuff Today

TOM MOON – 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die

DOTTY BROWNBoathouse Row: Waves of Change in the Birthplace of American Rowing

MIKE VITEZ – The Road Back; Great Americans: Stories of Resilience and Joy in Everyday Life; Final Choices: Seeking the Good Death

TOM GRALISH & MIKE VITEZRocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope, and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps

GIL GAULBillion-Dollar Ball: A Journey Through the Big-Money Culture of College Football; Giant Steps: The Story of One Boy’s Struggle to Walk

NEILL BOROWSKI & GIL GAUL Free Ride: The Tax-Exempt Economy

TONY WOOD & GIL GAULCrisis on the Coast: The Risky Development of America’s Shores

GEORGE ANASTASIABlood and Honor: Inside the Scarfo Mob–The Mafia’s Most Violent Family; The Last Gangster; The Goodfella Tapes; Gotti’s Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia; Mob Files: Mobsters, Molls and Murder; Mob Father: The Story of a Wife and a Son Caught in the Web of the Mafia; The Summer Wind : Thomas Capano and the Murder of Anne Marie Fahey; Philadelphia True Noir: Kingpins, Hustles and Homicides

GEORGE ANASTASIA & GLEN MACNOW – The Ultimate Book of Gangster Movies: Featuring the 100 Greatest Gangster Films of All Time

RALPH CIPRIANOThe Hit Man: A True Story of Murder, Redemption and the Melrose Diner; Courtroom Cowboy: The Life of Legal Trailblazer Jim Beasley; Garagista A Home Wine Making Journal

MARY WALTONA Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot; Car: A Drama of the American Workplace; The Deming Management Method; Deming Management at Work

JOE DiSTEFANOComcasted: How Ralph and Brian Roberts Took Over America’s TV, One Deal at a Time

KAREN E. QUINONES MILLERAn Angry-Ass Black Woman; Hittin’ It Out the Park; Satin Doll; Ida B.; Harlem Godfather: The Rap on my Husband, Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson

FRANK FITZPATRICKThe Lion In Autumn: A Season with Joe Paterno and Penn State Football; The Perfect Game: How Villanova’s Shocking 1985 Upset of Mighty Georgetown Changed the Landscape of College Hoops Forever; Pride of the Lions: The Biography of Joe Paterno; And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: The Basketball Game That Changed American Sports; You Can’t Lose ‘Em All: The Year the Phillies Finally Won the World Series

TANYA BARRIENTOSFrontera Street; Family Resemblance

SHARON WOHLMUTHMothers and Daughters; Sisters; Best Friends; A Day in the Life of the American Woman: How We See Ourselves

CRAIG STOCKInvesting During Retirement

FEN MONTAIGNE – Broken Empire : After the Fall of the USSR; Reeling In Russia: An American Angler In Russia; The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West; Surviving Galeras; Medicine by Design: The Practice and Promise of Biomedical Engineering; Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica

CARRIE RICKEYDoris Day Biography; They Went Thataway: Redefining Film Genres; Batiste Madalena : Poster Paintings for the Movies; The 1984 Show

JULIA CASSBlack in Selma: The Uncommon Life of J.L. Chestnut, Jr.

AKWELI PARKERAutomatic Emails: Polite Yet Potent Communications for Getting Stuff Done at Work, at Home, and in Your Community; 41 1/4 Creative Content Ideas: Ingeniously Clever Small Business Marketing Moves for Capturing More Clicks, Clients, and Cash; 31 Ways to Green Your Business (And Boost Your Bottom Line): A Practical Guide to Substantial Savings through Sustainable Business Practices

PAT RACCIO HUGHES – Five 4ths of July; The Breaker Boys; Guerrilla Season; Seeing the Elephant: A Story of the Civil War; Open Ice

SAL PAOLANTONIOFrank Rizzo: The Last Big Man in Big City America; The Paolantonio Report: The Most Overrated and Underrated Teams, Players, Coaches, and Moments in NFL History; How Football Explains America

GWEN FLORIOMontana; Reservations; Dakota; Disgraced

BILL LYONDeadlines and Overtimes: Collected Writings on Sports and Life; When the Clock Runs Out: 20 NFL Greats Share Their Stories of Hardship and Triumph

KEVIN FERRIS – Vets and Pets: Wounded Warriors and the Animals That Help Them Heal; Unbreakable Bonds: The Mighty Moms and Wounded Warriors of Walter Reed

JOANNE McLAUGHLINNever Before Noon; Peppina’s Sweetheart; Grass and Granite

CARLIN ROMANOAmerica the Philosophical

CLARK DELEONPennsylvania Curiosities; America’s First Zoostory and Other Philadelphia Stories: 125 Years at the Philadelphia Zoo

JOHN TIMPANE – Poetry For Dummies; Writing Worth Reading: The Critical Process; Writing Worth Reading: A Practical Guide; It Could Be Verse: Anybody’s Guide to Poetry

SERGIO BUSTOSMiami’s Criminal Past: Uncovered

CHRIS SATULLO – Crime and Punishment: Is Justice Being Served?; A Christmas Quartet

SUSAN FITZGERALDLetting Go with Love and Confidence: Raising Responsible, Resilient, Self-Sufficient Teens in the 21st Century; The Everything College Survival Book: All You Need to Get the Most out of College Life; Who Moved My Laundry?: A day-by-day guide to your first year of college life

SUSAN FITZGERALD, MARK JAFFE & DONALD DRAKEHard Choices: Health Care at What Cost?

MARK JAFFE – The Gilded Dinosaur: The Fossil War Between E.D. Cope and O.C. Marsh and the Rise of American Science; And No Birds Sing: The Story of an Ecological Disaster in a Tropical Paradise

NATALIE POMPILIO – Walking Philadelphia: 30 Tours Exploring Art, Architecture, History, and Little-Known Gems

MEL GREENBERGHoops Heaven: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

JIM REMSENThe Intermarriage Handbook: A Guide for Christians and Jews; Visions of Teaoga; Embattled Freedom: Chronicle of a Fugitive Slave Haven in the Wary North

INGA SAFFRONCaviar: The Strange History and Uncertain Future of the World’s Most Coveted Delicacy

JOHN HILFERTYMoonlight in Vermont; The Mad River Valley; Skiing in the Mad River Valley; Growing Up in World War II

MARILYN MARTERDining-In Philadelphia

REGINA SCHRAMBLINGSquash: A Country Garden Cookbook

BOB FRUMP – Two Tankers Down: The Greatest Small-Boat Rescue In U.S. Coast Guard History; Until the Sea Shall Free Them: Life, Death, and Survival in the Merchant Marine; I Cover the Waterfront: Non-Fiction Articles, 1980-2008, Maritime Writer Robert R. Frump; The Man-Eaters of Eden: Life and Death in Kruger National Park; The Spirit Lions: Darting Man-eaters in the Selous

JEFF GAMMAGEChina Ghosts: My Daughter’s Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood

ED COLIMORE Eyewitness Reports: The Inquirer’s Live Coverage of the American Civil War; The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Guide to Historic Philadelphia

STEPHAN SALISBURYMohamed’s Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland

DENISE COWIEThe Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes

DON GROFFBest Beach Vacations: The Mid-Atlantic from New York to Washington Dc (Frommer’s Best Beach Vacations East Coast from New York to Washington DC)

HOWARD GOODMANDisoriented: Two Strange Years in China as Unexpected Expats

MONICA YANT KINNEYPhiladelphia Murals & Stories They Tell

MIKE MISSANELLI – The Perfect Season: How Penn State Came to Stop a Hurricane and Win a National Football Championship; The Transaction: Surviving Professional Baseball Through 16 Years and 36 Waives, Recalls, Trades, and Releases

CRAIG LABANSavoring Philadelphia; The Philadelphia Inquirer Restaurant Guide

NATE GORENSTEINTommy Gun Winter: Jewish Gangsters, a Preacher’s Daughter, and the Trial That Shocked 1930s Boston

FAYE FLAMThe Score: The Science of the Male Sex Drive

MIKE SIELSKI – Fading Echoes: A True Story of Rivalry and Brotherhood from the Football Field to the Fields of Honor

BOB SHEASLEYHome to Roost: A Backyard Farmer Chases Chickens Through the Ages

AVERY ROME – Millennium Philadelphia

DAVE CALDWELL – New York Times Speed Show: How NASCAR Won the Heart of America

MICHAEL  E. RUANE – Sniper: Inside the Hunt for the Killers Who Terrorized the Nation; 1787: inventing America: A day-by-day account of the Constitutional Convention

 

Linda Hasert adds these names:

 

MAYA RAOWild Frontier: Chasing the American Dream in the Bakken Oil Fields (due out April 2018)

JOE LOGAN – Playing A Round: The Guide to Philadelphia-Area Golf Courses

KEN BOOKMANWhile the Pasta Cooks: 100 Sauces So Easy You Can Prepare the Sauce in the Time It Takes to Cook the Pasta; 2500 Recipes: Everyday to Extraordinary; One-Pot Chocolate Desserts: 50 Recipes for Making Chocolate Desserts from Scratch Using a Pot, A Spoon, and a Pan; One Pot Cakes: 60 Recipes for Cakes from Scratch Using a Pot, a Spoon, and a Pan; One-Pot Cookies: 60 Recipes for Making Cookies from Scratch Using a Pot, a Spoon, and a Pan; Dinner’s Ready: Turn a Single Meal Into a Week of Dinners  

MATT KATZAmerican Governor: Chris Christie’s Bridge to Redemption

ROSE CIOTTACruel Games: A Brilliant Professor, A Loving Mother, A Brutal Murder

DESMOND RYANHelix; Deadlines

JEFF WEINSTEINLearning to Eat

BILL ECENBARGERKids for Cash: Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.6 Million Kickback Scheme; Pennsylvania Stories–Well Told; Walkin’ the Line: A Journey from Past to Present Along the Mason-Dixon;  Making Ideas Matter: My Life as a Policy Entrepreneur; Glory by the Wayside: The Old Churches of Hawaii

BARBARA DEMICK – Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea; Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood; Besieged: Life Under Fire on a Sarajevo Street; Eat the Buddha (due out March 2018)

MIKE CAPUZZOThe Murder Room: In Which Three of the Greatest Detectives Use Forensic Science to Solve the World’s Most Perplexing Cold Cases; Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence; Wild Things

GLEN MACNOW –  The Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists; Sports Great Allen Iverson; Sports Great Kobe Bryant; Sports Great Troy Aikman; Sports Great Charles Barkley; Sports Great Tiger Woods; Sports Great Kevin Garnett; Sports Great Alex Rodriguez; Sports Great Chris Webber; Sports Great Jeff Gordon; Cal Ripken, Jr.: Hall of Fame Baseball Superstar; Deion Sanders: Hall of Fame Football Superstar; Shaquille O’Neal: Star Center; David Robinson Star Center; Ken Griffey, Jr., Star Outfielder; The Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Team; The Philadelphia 76ers Basketball Team

ANTHONY GARGANO – NFL Unplugged: The Brutal, Brilliant World of Professional Football; A Sunday Pilgrimage: Six Days, Several Prayers and the Super Bowl; War in the Trenches: Blood, Pain, and Profanity: Inside Life in the NFL

ANTHONY GARGANO & GLEN MACNOW The Great Philadelphia Fan Book

ANGELO CATALDI & GLEN MACNOW – The Great Philadelphia Sports Debate

RAY DIDINGERThe New Eagles Encyclopedia; One Last Read: The Collected Works of the World’s Slowest Sportswriter; On God’s Squad: The Story of Norm Evans; Wil the Thrill: The Untold Story of Wilbert Montgomery; The Super Bowl: Celebrating a Quarter-Century of America’s Greatest Game; Football America: Celebrating Our National Passion; Pittsburgh Steelers; The Professionals: Portraits of NFL Stars by America’s Most Prominent Illustrators

RAY DIDINGER & GLEN MACNOWThe Ultimate Book of Sports Movies: Featuring the 100 Greatest Sports Films of All Time

SAM CARCHIDI – Standing Tall: The Kevin Everett Story; If These Walls Could Talk: Philadelphia Flyers; Miracle in the Making: The Adam Taliaferro Story;

SAM CARCHIDI & RAY DIDINGERBill Campbell: The Voice of Philadelphia Sports

KATE FAGAN What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen; The Reappearing Act: Coming Out as Gay on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians

C.S. MANEGOLDTen Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North; In Glory’s Shadow: Shannon Faulkner, The Citadel, and a Changing America

DAVID HILTBRANDDeader Than Disco, Killer Solo, Dying to Be Famous

DAVID TUCKERLate for Work; Days When Nothing Happens

LUCINDA FLEESONWaking Up in Eden: In Pursuit of an Impassioned Life on an Imperiled Island

 

 

 

More than 70 years ago, Charles Lederer adapted the Ben Hecht classic The Front Page to place a woman in the role of Hildy, the best reporter in Chicago. Rosalind Russell burst into the newsroom opposite editor Cary Grant and what was not to like? She was smarter than the guys and so career focused she couldn’t leave the job.  Her wisecracks get incorporated into modern day news dramas like HBO’s Newsroom.   His Girl Friday  Would it be that all men writing about news women would have done so well.

Two notable news stories about Philadelphia news women and their love lives emerged this month, and they illustrate the gulf separating the good, the bad and the stupidly ugly.  One is the most remarkable nonfiction piece I’ve read in years.  The other marks another low tide in the coverage of The Philadelphia Inquirer ownership squabble, where the boys on the bus can’t seem to focus on issues, so enamored are they with cheap scoops and tales of the boudoir. First the good news.

sl_price

S.I. Price

Sports Illustrated writer S.I. Price writes in the January 20 edition of the magazine one of the most moving non-fiction pieces I’ve read in a long time as he dissects the career of the late Richard Ben Cramer, and his relationship to Inquirer editor Carolyn White.

Richard Ben

Cramer

The “news hook” to A-Rod is tenuous, and no, I don’t think A-Rod “defeated” Richard Ben. Cancer did that. Still, the heart of the story catches the furious sweet energy of Richard Ben and the epic love affair and creative collaboration with Carolyn. And the author does it in a very short space with no words wasted. The story has far less to do with sports and everything to do with two champions of literary non-fiction and the tumultuous lives they led. It’s tender, triumphant, sad, respectful and invasive all at the same time. For me, it only places both Richard Ben and Carolyn on a higher pedestal These folks gave it their all, flat out, with no compromises. Comes now the bad news.  And compromises.  Boy, are there compromises.

nancy phillips

Nancy Phillips

Philadelphia Magazine’s Steve Volk falls for a leaked private email and seems intent on  attaching a scarlet letter — again– to City Editor Nancy Phillips who has been the known companion to owner Lewis Katz for quite some time now. One assumes the email was obtained and leaked through the forces of or sympathizers with George Norcross III, an owner at war with Katz. Here’s how Volk reports the story:

Inquirer Ownership Battle:  “Darling … Eliminate the Daily News

According to an email leaked to Philadelphia magazine, Nancy Phillips, as her long-time companion Lewis Katz was contemplating purchasing a controlling interest in the city’s biggest media company, made sweeping recommendations about strategies for turning around the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, including specific executive firings and the possible elimination of the Daily News.

“Darling,” the March 17, 2012 email, from Phillips to Katz, begins.

 “Company needs a new publisher,” she writes.

“Paper needs a new editor.

“Philly.com needs a new leader.

“Daily News has to be seriously evaluated with a view toward possible elimination or curtailment as in a move to the website with pared down staff and a paper product one day a week if at all.”

So there may be nothing wrong factually in this email. Except that there’s nothing much right about it really in the context of the larger issues involved.   If  one were to fully report the conflict, rather than writing about the private email,  one would write about  the leak itself.

It is after all strictly out of the Norcross school of pay-back — a fact so obvious that the “comments” section of the article points it out clearly.

Steve, there’s no denying you’re a good writer and reporter. But I think, like a growing number of people out there you are succumbing to leaks and spins of the vicious New Jersey smear politics being applied to The Inquirer these days. Talk to investigative reporter Alan Guenther about how he and his father were smeared after he did a three part series on George Norcross or activist and former state senator Alene Ammond. South Jersey political boss George Norcross 3d is known to be a past master at “destroying” opponents. He now seems to be skillfully applying machine politics techniques to Inquirer/Daily News internal politics.

Norcross

Norcross

The lede, even this reader knows, is more like this:  “Norcross Continues Smears of Inquirer Journalists.” Instead Philly Mag chooses to go with the titillating but not terribly insightful emphasis on the Katz-Phillips companionship. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little tabloid sleaziness here and there.  In moderation. Even the great A.J. Liebling noted there’s always a “little con” in even the best news articles.

The operative words are “little con.”  And the problem with coverage of the Inquirer conflict is that much of the  media coverage of the squabble seems to have been written by a cartoon wolf who hears that Phillips and Katz are companions.  The reporters gets as far as the word “Darling” — and  the wolf-reporter’s eyes and tongue shoot out, followed by a 360 degree head spin, and steam pours  out the ears.  Stop the presses.  We got a scandal!

You could call such a practice chauvinistic.  You could call it sexist.

But mostly it’s just stupid.  It’s stupid because the fascination with the boudoir misses the true story.  That real story continues to be that George Norcross III is running a campaign against editorial independence at The Inquirer.  He sought to fire Bill Marimow, a two-time Pulitzer winning editor of great skill and integrity, and he has sought to smear Phillips. He has done this through behind the scene leaks, and he’s done it by enlisting formally or informally  the other respectable news media in Philadelphia.

The bigger, more meaningful story is of course that campaign.  It is not the leaked information that is substantive news, it is the fact that the leak was made and the Email obtained.

But here’s why that doesn’t happen. Call it “Leak Club.”

When the reporter agrees to take the cheap story and the cheap leak, he also joins “Leak Club.”  And the first rule of Leak Club is, you don’t talk about Leak Club.

In fact, you can’t.  You’ve offered anonymity to the leaker.  And  on this slippery path of journalism, you no doubt are promised more cheap and routine scandals if you play your cards right and don’t examine the information in too much context.

In such a way do good reporters become part of the Norcross machine.  In such way do “little cons” become one “big con” — on the reporter as well as the reader. 

I’ll give it to him.  Boss Norcross knows his news media moves.  He’s tied up tough reporters who should be writing and blogging about Norcross drawing a noose around Bill Marimow and Nancy Phillips at The Inquirer.  And instead, they’re wittingly or unwittingly helping Norcorss make the rope for two of the best news people in the business.

If Philadelphia Magazine had a broader and more noble purpose, it would forego the routine scoop and the cheap exclusive and go for the larger story.

Marimow

Marimow

In that version, here’s how it plays out.  Nancy Phillips, an investigative reporter of unquestioned skill and integrity, actively promoted upgrading the quality of the editorship by hiring Bill Marimow.  She strongly lobbied Katz to buy a major stake in the newspaper to support good journalism.  She removed herself from any coverage of Katz.

In short, she’s done about everything a good journalist could do to save a good newspaper.  (I think the Daily News idea is wrong, but any business owner would have to consider it.  Otherwise, she is batting 900.)

What would have happened if genders were reversed? If a male editor were married to a companion of a rich benefactor, would there be such a fuss?

It’s hard for me to imagine.  I’m not a big player in the gender equality wars, but I can’t imagine the pile-on of boudoir stories would be quite this heavy.

But I never quite get to that criticism in my mind, because at base the stories do not meet my first filter.  They aren’t really news.  They are titillations.  News involves facts presented in a context where readers may act upon them with affect.  It’s pretty clear that the writers at Phillymag.com  their sights set on a lower form of pseudo-journalism, the kind that tracks Kim Kardashian and pines for some twerky gossip from starlets.

As for their news judgement?  As an old city editor of mine once said, I think it may have be been shot off in the war.