Friday, August 28, 2009

High Anxiety

Choking the Local
by John Lombardi

A few weeks ago, Mark Keintz, then the CHCA treasurer, published an Op Ed in the paper which was surprisingly frank about the state of the CHCA's finances -- the fact that the paper had turned a few thou profit -- wow! after 51 years in business; that Quita Horan was about to knock off her $40,000 annual stipend next year (presumably because she was sickened by the inchworm mentality of CHCA officials and their repeated errors of judgement); and about the state probe into CHCA financial records, still ongoing though unremarked by the scribes of the Local -- who've been "prevented" -- according to their defenders -- from writing anything serious about the behind-the-scenes atmosphere in CHCA .

But Thursday night, Keintzy, not exactly a Brave Heart when it comes to standing up in controversial situations, resigned his position, reportedly reading from a letter to Philip LeCalsey, and citing the need to spend more time with his family -- the usual rationale. Were the members of the Executive Committee angry with him for his truthful blat in the Local -- after all, they've succeeded in getting pretty much everything else in the weekly "news" hole closed down to happy "stories," like the recent one on the refurbishment of the Chestnut Hill Hotel --attagirl Jenny Katz! (And if you hang on long enough, you may get that "Editor's" job after all.) Or pieces about Snowden's success getting easements for his latest setback exception requests -- thrillorama!

Darker rumors have Keintz scuttering away before the State of Pennsylvania finally bestirs itself on bookkeeping peculiarities -- not that he was responsible, but just that he didn't want to be on the line defending them. Or, to give the man his due -- maybe he truly did disagree with the Choke the Local to Death mania that the new Exec regime seems to subscribe to. Knowing nothing at all about journalism and caring less, the Execs first emasculated editor and staff, and are now -- the word is -- turning to production. David Mansfield, who replaced Keintz Thursday, and who swept in last Spring with the Snowden forces, has reportedly been noising it around that the paper just costs too much, and could take a cut of $200,000! It's production department should be outsourced! A ludicrous idea, said to be born of Mansfield/ Larry Hochberger "business pragmatism."

Far from being "a full participant" in the running of the Local, as has been claimed by Walter Sullivan, the "Editor" is said to know so little about this that he is reduced to working back channels of source info -- just like a common blogger.

News flash for the Execs and their several staffs: Newspapers are groups, like teams or tribes. If you reduce them relentlessly to "efficient" blocs of workers, just in it for the money, like Walmart employees, and operating at minimum cred with the community -- you end up with a disaffected staff, indifferent readers, and a "McNewsburger". Or with a sale to a McNewsburger chain, like JRC.

Or you just close up.

The old rule was to hire a genius crew of reporters & editors, and killer squads of ad sales & circulation staff. And never let 'em near each other. Abandoning that notion has resulted in the kind of journalistic Mogadishu we have now.
For Michael Vick, the kindness of dog lovers among Local letter writers:

"This man who hanged them and shot them & held them under water until they were dead, should get the same treatment." (Frank Heffelfinger, Wyndham); "The only second chance Michael Vick should get should be . . . as a trash collector, picking up dog poop." (Lillian Rosen, Wyndham); "Dumb old Andy Reid has a soft spot for felons (his sons' drug troubles)." (Chris Bacheler. Drexel Hill); "[He] fell to the bottom of that fetid sewer known as dogfighting. He is a monster, completely without mercy. . . therefore, no mercy whatsoever can be shown toward him. Punitive guidelines are grossly insufficient." (Bridget Irons, Chestnut Hill).

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Blogger Jeremiade said...

Hey sought the job, why not stay? You can be subpoenaed as the former treasurer by the Commonwealth anyway. I wonder if the mandatory financial report on the Public Safety Fund to the Orphans' Court was filed in 2005. The third report is due in 2010. Will the Commonwealth's investigation into sloppy and dishonest financial recordkeeping be reported to us? If Lombardi is right we won't hear it from the Local. I guess we "common bloggers" will have to get the info elsewhere.

Sat Aug 29, 05:49:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous John Lombardi said...

You'll get it in Northwest Notebook.

Sat Aug 29, 01:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger reverend chris said...

First off all them letter regarding Michael Vick amaze me. If only people were that upset when, let's say, someone steals money from a community fund... or perhaps demands that a local restaurant serving food at a festival pay the proper lisense fee to the Health Department (oh yes - this is the new tidbit of info that I was made aware of from a friend in local government) 19118 would be a better place.

What Vick did was wrong but he served his time, and in this country that's all you have to do. Now, someone like Ted Kennedy who KILLED A WOMAN and didn't serve any time: that is something to get upset about. If you have a problem with Vick's short sentence or the terms of his release or the fact he is in the NFL it's the law and those who run the sport you should bash. Not Vick or Andy Reid.

My solution to all this mess:

Maybe he will get some seriously schitt done. 'nuff said.

Sat Aug 29, 03:55:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ed Feldman said...

The two groups most outraged about Vick are people who like their dogs more than they like their kids, and racists who will use any excuse to admonish a black man for anything other than being black.
If you created a Venn Diagram of those groups and Hill residents, you'd get the Ballantine Logo

Sat Aug 29, 04:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

Father John, Reverend Chris and Rabbi Ed...I think you guys are missing the point about Vick. Sure he paid for his crime and the Eagles considered the outrage their fans would show. But many fans rightly feel the Eagles made a bad choice in placing this man back in the arena of role models. When a players namer is announced, I prefer to reflect on his abilities and not on what he's done to animals but when Vick's name is announced, guess what I think! His prior behavior does not reflect on me but on him.

Sun Aug 30, 09:57:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous John Lombardi said...

The idea of confusing athletes as role models is a holdover from the "Blacksocks scandal", "Say it ain't so, Joe" era of American innocence, Brother Jer. But Babe Ruth and Dempsey and Harry Greb and those boys were pretty rough customers even then, it's just that the press hadn't yet become the viral media, and so didn't write about their darker sides.
What bothers me is that the media today snaps into unified positions on various people -- Jackie Onassis, Good! Mike Tyson, Bad! -- and the poor, mentally-herded public (50 years of increasingly shorter TV commercials crippling their attention spans & ability to think consecutively) -- goes along semi-consciously.
Also, class is still the great divider in American public life, and certainly in Northwest Philly. Mr. Heffelfinger in Wyndham, and Mr. Bacheler in Drexel Hill and Ms. Irons, the Deerlover, displace their feelings re animals and humans because they can't imagine life in the squalid cultures of ghettos . . . where foolish "macho" values provide group encounter experiences for poor blacks, latinos and whites to this day.
Not everybody can get off on "Lost" or "American Idol", or the Historical Society's annual "Rational Preservation" ball,thank God. At least not yet.

Sun Aug 30, 01:06:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

Father John, of the role models you mentioned, there was good and bad in each. In the end they were all role models and the good outweighed the bad. That's really all I think we hope for. I will agree on the media's pathetic lock step role in building and/or destroying reputations. I can't say now how I would have reacted to Joe Jackson's acquittal but playing in the NFL is a priviledge which I would have withheld from Vick. I have never said anyting against Michael Vick but when he is booed I will wish some other deserving player were in the game instead.

Sun Aug 30, 08:33:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous John Lombardi said...

Ever lived in a slum, bro? Been beaten up for being too much of a reader? Or not tough enough? Ever been in a cell? A gang fight? Heard your parents screaming about the rent?
There's assured, theoretical knowledge. And there's street cred. Chestnut Hillers who think Michael Vick should be killed in the way his dogs were, are just emotionally uneducated.

Sun Aug 30, 11:10:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Ed Feldman said...

Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Rogers Hornsby. Inductees, Baseball hall of Fame. Ku Klux Klan Members.

Mon Aug 31, 11:58:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jeremiade said...

I've never lived in a slum and my parents insulated me from their financial woes, something I think all parents owe their children. Wishing ill will to Michael Vick goes beyond emotionally uneducated to emotionally disturbed.

Rabbi Ed, I'm more concerned with Klan members who served in Congress until recently than of dead ball players. We don't elect the ball players.

Mon Aug 31, 05:45:00 PM EDT  

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