Former Philadelphia Inquirer metro columnist Tom Ferrick calls Philly.com “an anomaly among the newspaper-related web sites in America in that it doesn’t much like news.” The people behind the site know they can’t get millions of unique visitors with news stories, he says, because “news is dull.” They think, “Sports is better. Gossip is better still. Showing a woman with big breasts is good.” That harms the print newspapers, says Ferrick.
The Inquirer and Daily News are brands built on good journalism — and good journalistic practices. Their value is in their truthfulness and reliability.
Philly.com doesn’t share those values. It doesn’t work under the same rules. Therefore, it runs the risk of pulling the papers down to its level. That cheapens the brand.
Philly.com editor Wendy Warren tells me that Ferrick is wrong about Philly.com staffers’ view of news.
“I want to make emphatically clear that news is the lifeblood of philly.com — we absolutely care very much about news.” She points out this morning’s lead stories on the site are about a priest’s trial, an FBI sting, and the Trayvon Martin case.
There have been cheerleader galleries on the site, but “finding a balance between light and heavy is something journalists have done in my 20 years in the business and certainly before that,” says Warren.
“News is what brings people back to the site and we are extremely conscious of that. We have increased our staffing for breaking news” and will continue to. “News could not be more important to us.”