Philadelphia Will Do  
Tag » John Baer « Home

Abridged Daily News Columnists

I have been researching a story, doing interviews and all that good stuff most of the day. But I’ve holed up in a coffee shop to bring you Abridged Daily News Columnists!

Ronnie Polaneczky: I actually said “good idea!” when I saw Polaneczky had written about selling her gold and getting cash. Selling gold has exploded in popularity (or at least Google popularity) since 2006 and the local news has noticed. But is Polaneczky the only columnist who has actually sold her own gold? Right: Who cares!

The column is standard stuff with a cute anecdote at the end. It’s a nice touch, though, that one of the places she goes to sell her old jewelry is a gold dealer who set up at Hampton Inn in Bensalem. Right across from the Woodhaven Mall!

Stu Bykofsky: Do I have a rule that I don’t abridge stories about bureaucratic tussles in animal control? I do now, but I’d really encourage you to study the lead carefully:

WITH PACCA in its grave and PSPCA decapitated, local animal-lovers fear that innocent animals will pay with their lives for the uncivil war between the agencies that has raged for some 18 months.

Were all of the animals really innocent? Are we to assume none of these dogs assaulted people, stole bones or sold drugs on the side?

I get that Bykofsky really cares about animals, and I’m sure he’s heartbroken. I know he’s also hoping to paint the animals as sympathetically as possible. I really don’t think we need innocent to modify animals there, though. Of course they’re innocent! They’re animals! I know: Whatever. But I think it’s detrimental to the column. It’s not that it’s bad writing; columns are most convincing when the writer is clear and clean and makes solid points. Let the story carry the column! I dream of a world where no one in the media uses the phrase “innocent animals.”

Or maybe stuff like that resonates. And Bykofsky has won a lot of awards for writing about animals. I dunno.

John Baer: Baer interviews Allyson Schwartz, who says she will maybe run for Arlen Specter’s U.S. Senate seat. Baer thinks otherwise. Hm. Analysis, opinion, and the worst modifier I can find is “tough statewide run.” Excellent.

Michael Smerconish: Hmm. Smerconish is praising CNBC’s Rick Santelli for complaining about “losers’ mortgages” and yelling, “President Obama, are you listening?” on air. Sigh. I’m probably wrong. Going shamelessly over-the-top works. Anyway, the American populace is suddenly concerned about rich people stealing their money. Eh.

Abridged Daily News Columnists

Jhn Baer: Pennsylvania’s legislature has more staffers than anywhere else in country. Woo-hoo, we’re number one!

Jill Porter: “But my math is simple: The more guns in circulation, the more that find their way to the dregs of society who casually assassinate cops.” You going to look that up, Ms. Porter, or maybe cite something, or… no, you’re just going to go with your gut and not bother to find out if it’s true or not? Okay, fine, but it might be nice to have some facts to back up your opinion and… oh, nevermind.

More importantly: How the hell is that math?!

Abridged Daily News Columnists

Stu Bykofsky: Like everything else in Philadelphia, the collection of money from tickets from red light cameras — coming to City Hall soon! — is done incompetently.

(Be sure to read the comments on this one, which currently mention the lack of cleanliness in the city, and suspended Phillies pitcher J.C. Romero.)

John Baer: Arlen Specter hired Joe Torsella’s wife, and Torsella hired Specter’s wife. (This is just like how Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, etc.) And now they’re going to run against each other for a Senate seat! John Baer thinks this will lead to a kinder, gentler campaign, which it will — until the parties realize a Senate seat is on the line and they break out the attack ads.

Deborah Leavy: Oh, man, the honeymoon is over for Barack Obama! As it should be, he’s been president for almost a month. But, yes, everyone is super annoying and partisan and oh, no, the world is going to end.

Abridged Daily News Columnists

John Baer: The guy who’s the governor is still in good spirits, but the guy on trial and possibly facing a de facto life sentence is not!

Ronnie Polaneczky: Hey, a column that sort of touches on the arbitrary distinction between an 18-year-old being an adult but a 16-year-old being a helpless child or whatever. Not bad.

Elmer Smith: Hey, it’s the pilot who safely landed that plane in the water! What makes this column really fun, though, is all the words in strange, unnecessary quotes.

Abridged Daily News Columnists

Stu Bykofsky: Man, who ever would have thought that the people who write the laws would be treated with kid gloves by the people who enforce them?!

John Baer: Did you know there are places in Pennsylvania that have the same names as corporations?!

Dave Davies: Wait, you mean Vince Fumo did things for certain people and that’s why he got re-elected all those times?!

Abridged Daily News Columnists

Jill Porter: Last year, Jill Porter helped get Hershey’s to pull candy stamped “ICEBREAKERS” from the market because it sort of looked like crack (but not really). (It’s okay, Wired’s website agreed.) Anyway, Porter wrote about Michael Phelps and why marijuana should be legal. Color me surprised and proud.

Ronnie Polaneczky: Hey, here’s the story of the cantor at police funerals at the Basilica.

John Baer: Now that Ed Rendell wants to legalize video poker to help get some money for the state (more on this later), some lawmakers have shot back with calls for legalized prostitution and marijuana. Yes, yes a million times yes! Oh, apparently they’re saying it as a joke. Sadness.

Michael Smerconish: Before the Internet nobody attempted to make money off a celebrity doing something stupid in public. Smerconish is all about narcing when he sees a drug deal, though, which is something that actually has real consequences (as opposed to selling a tape of Christian Bale being angry or whatever).

Stu Bykofsky: Oh, man, Stu Bykofsky has responded to the Phillymag article about newspapers with his own plan for how to save newspapers! The idea: Sue Google for sending the websites free traffic!

Publishers sowed the seeds of their own destruction - pre-Tierney - by stampeding to the Internet and giving away their content for free, overturning a business model that had sustained them for centuries.

We must stop the insanity - now! It’s time for some brave publisher - Hello, Brian - to stand up and howl: “No more free content!”

This company should charge online visitors a small fee, maybe $5 a month, for our content - which is copyrighted, then sue the pants off anyone stealing it.

Should Google “pick up” (steal) our stuff, if we successfully sued them for $1 billion, two good things happen: 1) Our money problems are solved; 2) everyone else will stop stealing our content.

Apparently indexing a site and sending readers its way is highly illegal. Or, rather, it would be if the site was behind a pay-wall. Which is why ESPN Insider is currently suing Google for giving away its content for free. Oh wait!

Bloggers can’t replace newspapers.

No one says they should, are or will. You sure stuck it to those non-existent people! This column was written in 2003. Maybe earlier. Bykofsky just decided to run it now.

The million bloggers comment mostly on what was revealed by resource-rich newspapers. No matter how many eyeballs they attract, blogs rarely “break through” because they are so many and so scattered. They lack newspapers’ broad-based public square, where the masses assemble. They also lack the public megaphone and spotlight, which may be the print press’ most important weapons.

Blogs are also not news-gathering organizations. This is like saying, “No way can one actor make a movie. It takes a lot of people! YouTube should be ashamed of itself!” This article is a giant strawman made of smaller strawmen, then lit on fire at Burning Man.

And, on a side note, how dare Burning Man think it can replace all other forms of recreation!

Was it a blogger who turned a spotlight, and publicly shamed, the Postal Service for dumping mail? No, that was the Daily News. Did a blogger have the resources in time, talent and staff to drag DHS onto the front pages and into the grand-jury room? No, that was the Inquirer. Every day newspapers run stories that would not otherwise be told.

Yes, and the other way around, too. Blogs cover stories newspapers can’t, won’t or don’t cover.

Do all (any?) bloggers have the training or the inclination to post only what is verifiable? Working for a newspaper means you have been vetted by virtue of education or experience, and you hew to ethical norms of accuracy, honesty and objectivity. Do we always succeed? No. But almost all of us make an honest effort, and we have angels on our shoulders (called editors) to ensure that we do.

Fun fact: The Daily News runs more corrections than most blogs — and not because the blogs write something stupid! Of course, that comparison is dumb, but I’m working with what I’m stealing from the newspaper here.

That’s why I’ll trust the Associated Press’ reporting of President Obama’s recovery plan over anything I’ll read at or

Good job, cherrypicking two random sites, one where anyone can post, and another that’s a cesspool of nonsense. That’s why I trust’s reporting on BatBoy’s wedding more than anything I read in the Weekly World News!

As Volk writes from his smug platform, doesn’t he realize that maybe half the stories in each issue of his magazine had their genesis in earlier newspaper reporting? We also provide the material for WIP and other talk radio to gab about all day, not to mention providing leads for TV-news-assignment desks. I’m not bragging or complaining. It’s just true.

There’s a rule in advertising — I know a lot about advertising, I’ve seen both Trust Me and Mad Men — that if you’re the big fish, you don’t attack the smaller ones. It’s why you usually don’t see ExxonMobil doing attack ads against BP. So, yes, newspapers have been the most trusted and dominant news medium for a long, long time now. Everyone knows that. You don’t get a bonus for pointing it out.

But what makes it even funnier is Stu’s most recent column on Monday was about something he heard on the radio. How dare he take information from someone he heard on a radio broadcast! They ought to charge for radio, and if Stu writes about it, radio can sue.

Abridged Daily News Columnists

John Baer: Here’s an account of how Pennsylvania could save or make some money. Good enough, I suppose, but a lot of it is about the legislature cutting its staff. Yes, that would never happen.

Stu Bykofsky: This column is about Reggie Bryant, a local radio host.

Stone never demonstrated his devotion to the African-American community at the expense of whites (or others). In contrast, Bryant has an enduring, incurable dislike (at the least) of whites, whom he refers to as “Europeans.” It is they, he says, who have caused all the havoc in the world - past, present and likely future. I know that’s how he talks, because I sometimes listen to his show.

Why have I not listened to this show ever?! It sounds awesome.

Abridged Daily News Columnists

John Baer: It’s a crisis! It’s time for bipartisanship! Just like in the run-up to the Iraq War! Oh wait, that didn’t work out so well! Anyway, Baer has some pretty awesome examples of how hilariously corrupt government in general is, though:

A small example: Rendell’s budget address next week was pushed back a day because many lawmakers plan to attend Sunday’s Super Bowl in Tampa, and because a Steelers win means celebrations Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

Not that pushing the people’s business back just 24 hours makes much difference. It’s more the message it sends about priorities.

Another small example: In the midst of a hiring freeze and possible layoffs of up to 2,000 state workers, Rendell hands a newly created, $95,000 job to defeated Democratic lawmaker Dan Surra, of Elk County, to be an adviser on forest and games lands, backpacking and trout fishing.

Which reminds me: Check out this list of press releases, and search “Conti.” We’re sure getting quite a good deal out of the CEO of the Liquor Control Board!

Stu Bykofsky: Stu opens today calling a local meteorologist — no one in particular — a “weatherdoll.” Sexist? Hmm, I’m not sure. Let’s go with “strange and outdated” instead. Especially since the best-known weather forecasters in this town are a guy in a bow tie and a dude with slick-back black hair. Anyway, here’s his hilarious joke of the day:

AccuFeather, Shmoppler, EarthItch, Watchamacallit, it’s all the same.

Ha ha, EarthItch!! Oh, mercy.

Ronnie Polaneczky: I hope we’re all in agreement that people who complain when someone does something “wrong” with the flag — such as the 82-year-old who is pissed about flags at half-staff at a local charter school — are people we should not listen to about anything, ever. And, hey, what do you know! Polaneczky criticizes Imhotep Charter School for lowering the flag to half-staff for that studen shot by a cop. Duh. Can’t these people grieve or cope in an approved socially acceptable way?!

Abridged Daily News Columnists

Ronnie Polaneczky: Best sentence in this column: “Community College of Philadelphia deserves props for Earleena’s rebirth.”

Elmer Smith: Best sentence in this one: “THOSE WHO took part will remember the mayor’s citywide ‘whup me, beat me, spank me tour’ as a rare opportunity to dropkick a public official.”

John Baer: Here’s how old Arlen Specter is: The article wondering if he’s run for more elected offices than any other politician ever mentions Harold Stassen. I guess that doesn’t necessarily make him old, but trust me: Arlen Specter is old.

I also enjoyed this comment on the column:

Tell the Senator he may be enjoying the stay of execution that God gave him…but he is not going to survive this world and his legacy will blow away like the dust he is made of….Be humble you far from perfect Politician!!

Michael Smerconish: Noted Pakistani foreign policy expert Smerconish had dinner with the former president of Pakistan! It’s funny that Smerconish writes “[w]e’ve outsourced the hunt for Osama to Pakistan,” which is basically what John Kerry said during a debate in 2004 (though I believe he was talking about warlords instead of Pakistan). Still: Smerconish taking rhetorical cues from John Kerry! Pretty awesome.

Abridged Daily News Columnists

There are three Obama columns today from three different columnists. Oh God.

Elmer Smith: This is your standard ‘go talk to older black people about Obama’ story, but Smith gets some good quotes and talks with a 103-year-old woman.

John Baer: Good point in Baer’s column about people saying the speech wasn’t that good (he says it was okay): Who cares, the whole event was quite a spectacle.

Ronnie Polaneczky: Polaneczky went to DC for the inauguration and was moved.