MEDIA PROFILE: Daily News: ’serious tabloid’ with local NY strength - The Daily News’ stormy history seems par for the course for the city that never sleeps. Claire Atkinson sits down with the editor for some solid newspaper pitchi

The torrid history of the New York Daily News has all the high drama of a front page news story. The tabloid, previously located in a building that was once the backdrop for a Superman movie, has been crippled by more strikes than Mark McGwire’s baseball bat. It also faced bankruptcy after its owner, rogue publisher Robert Maxwell, drowned at sea.

The torrid history of the New York Daily News has all the high drama of a front page news story. The tabloid, previously located in a building that was once the backdrop for a Superman movie, has been crippled by more strikes than Mark McGwire’s baseball bat. It also faced bankruptcy after its owner, rogue publisher Robert Maxwell, drowned at sea.

The torrid history of the New York Daily News has all the high

drama of a front page news story. The tabloid, previously located in a

building that was once the backdrop for a Superman movie, has been

crippled by more strikes than Mark McGwire’s baseball bat. It also faced

bankruptcy after its owner, rogue publisher Robert Maxwell, drowned at

sea.



The paper was finally acquired by its current owners, Mort Zuckerman and

Fred Drasner. After a series of rapid editorial firings, they settled on

Debby Krenek, a level-headed Texan, as editor. Krenek has steered the

paper into calmer waters, and it is now the fourth-largest metropolitan

daily in the US. But the Daily News’ legacy still lingers, with a

dispute over delivery drivers’ pay threatening more disruption.



Few cities in the US boast more than one daily paper, but New York has

five. The Daily News jostles for Gotham’s attention alongside The New

York Times, New York Post, Newsday and the Wall Street Journal.



Bucking the trend of declining newspaper readership the Daily News has

boosted its total circulation. ABC’s figures (as of March 31, 1999) show

the weekday paper up from 727,089 to 729,449, behind the WSJ at

1,792,452, and The New York Times at 1,134,974, but ahead of Newsday at

573,542 and the Post at 433,774.



Unlike so many other newspapers across the country, the Daily News has

maintained a campaigning spirit that distinguishes it from the

competition.



The paper has tackled city-wide issues from high incidences of asthma to

poor reading ability among school children. The editorial page team,

under editor Michael Goodwin, investigated alleged mismanagement of

Harlem’s famous Apollo theater and picked up this year’s Pulitzer, the

paper’s third in four years.



Krenek, who was appointed editor-in-chief in 1997, explains how the News

differs from its main rival, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post: ’We are a

serious tabloid,’ she says, somewhat witheringly. ’The Post is a light,

frivolous read - it puts a lot of effort into gossip. We do that stuff

too, but we are particularly focused on helping New Yorkers live in New

York and know about it.’



Mike Hoyt, senior editor at the Columbia Journalism Review, believes the

Post has stronger media and Wall Street coverage, which caters more to

Manhattanites, but adds that the News is making great strides. Hoyt

continues: ’The Daily News is a good newspaper. It is more serious about

the boroughs and it has more resources than the Post to cover it.’



Krenek defends the paper’s business coverage, which is edited by Scott

Wenger. ’We’ve done a total revamp of our business section,’ she

says.



’Wall Street is particularly important to us. We changed the name of the

section to ’Biz News’ and added a bunch of new features.’



Coming soon: color



Also coming to fruition are plans to bring some color to the



black-and-white print that has characterized the paper for the past 80

years. The color, set to debut in the fall, will brighten up the front

and back page, the entertainment pages and of course, the advertising.

Krenek, who happens to be married to one of The New York Times’ top

political writers, emphasizes the paper’s local connections, which she

says, Internet news services lack. ’We are able to be more explanatory

than the Net. We’ve chosen local coverage to make our franchise. We have

bureaus in all the boroughs,’ says Krenek.



From the gloomy third floor, the editor’s day starts by talking to the

main desk editors. After the half-hour news meeting at 11am, attended by

editors from the sports, business, city and national sections, she says,

’My day can go a lot of different ways.’



In addition to filling pages two to eight, a gossip spread and advice

columns, by the 5 pm deadline, Krenek oversees a range of feature

packages put together by Alan Mirabella.



Mirabella admits that the 75-strong department is not easy to navigate

because unlike other papers, features run as separate sections.



Each day, the paper publishes themed sections: Monday is health, Tuesday

is dedicated to borough coverage and education, Wednesday is food,

Thursday contains a women’s section and Friday is thick with arts and

entertainment coverage.



Linda Perney is the lifestyle editor and looks after health, fitness and

travel, while Robert Heisler is television editor. The entertainment

coverage is handled by editor Kevin Hayes.



According to Mirabella, features are planned approximately two weeks in

advance. His advice on pitches is: ’Don’t pitch us product - but it is

useful to gain new sources for information. If you represent a

prescription drug company, then we wouldn’t be interested in writing

about the drug, but we could be interested in talking to a new

source.’



Mirabella estimates that only 2% of ideas are driven by PR executives or

press releases. He reminds PR pros that the features are very news- and

trends-driven. He also advises people not to call after the 5 pm

deadline.



What scope is there for non-New York oriented pitches? Mirabella says

that they look at suggestions on a case-by-case basis and says that

although stories on Alzheimers are not just a New York issue, the paper

looks for ways of relating it back to the region. ’We are a local paper

and that is what defines us.’



Do your homework, please



Business editor Wenger adds that he is frustrated by the number of calls

from people who have no idea what the Daily News is about. ’Do the

background,’ he stresses. ’You don’t call up a major corporation and

ask, ’What do you do?’’ Wenger’s tip is don’t call after 4pm and send

suggestions by fax to 212- 643-7826.



One column that is more receptive to PR pitches is ’Today in New York,’

which lists the events of the day. While Krenek has little contact with

PR executives, she directs those calls to her reporters and editors. But

some pitches get through. And gifts are collected for an end-of-year

charity auction.



While sports have always been a big component of the paper, photos have

also played a significant role. ’The Daily News has always been New

York’s picture newspaper. The founder, Joseph Patterson, was very strong

on emotional pictures. The paper was founded for new immigrants and a

lot of them couldn’t read English that well so pictures were important,’

explains Krenek.



Symbolizing that tradition is the brownie box camera logo that sits at

the center of the masthead. The paper’s trademark remains service

journalism,which last week answered an important question for New

Yorkers: Is it quicker to cross town by sports car or subway? Answer:

The subway.



CONTACT LIST



Daily News



450 West 33rd Street



New York, NY 10001-2681



Tel: 212 210 2100



Editorial Fax: 212-643-7831



PR suggestions may be sent via: Http//:www.nydailynews.com

Editor-in-chief



Debby Krenek Executive editor



Bob Sapio Senior managing editor (news and strategy)



Arthur Brown Managing editor - news



Bill Boyle Managing editor for business, sports, features Richard

Rosen



Deputy managing editor/news



David Ng



Deputy managing editor - features Alan Mirabella



Editorial page editor



Michael Goodwin



Metropolitan editor Richard Pienciak



Business editor



Scott Wenger



Sunday editor



Ed Kosner.



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