Toll Story  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Features
From AJR,   June/July 2006

Toll Story   

By Rachel Smolkin
     

Related reading:
   » Life with Brian

The chairman of Philadelphia Media Holdings is Bruce E. Toll, 63, who has known CEO Brian Tierney for 25 years and is providing about $40 million toward purchasing the Inquirer and Daily News. He is cofounder and vice chairman of Toll Brothers Inc., a national luxury homebuilding company, and owner of two car dealerships and other investments, including real estate and medical clinics. Excerpts from his conversation with AJR follow.

On what should change :

"There's no society section, there's not a style section. You don't know what's going on in the city of Philadelphia. I went to three charity events [recently]. There was no Inquirer or Daily News reporter there. People who subscribe would like to see their own picture in the paper, especially when they buy a ticket to a charity, like they do in New York in the style section. That would create readership, in my opinion.

"The business section has to be done over to be better. We should do more local stories on local businesses; they do some but not enough. The real estate section can be improved upon. If you look at the Palm Beach Post or the Miami Herald real estate sections I think they're better. They do more stories about communities and things and therefore create a need for more ads. I like the New York Times where it talks about a lot of historical things in the city, which Philadelphia never does."

On his hopes for the papers :

"First I want it to be profitable; I'm not in it to lose money. I'm not an altruistic person when it comes to this.

"I just wanted to bring the paper to the glory that it had many years ago when I was a youngster. I was born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs, in Elkins Park. Obviously the readership's been going down, but the paper's not as great as it used to be. You had local ownership, and that slipped away after Walter Annenberg sold it. It started to be not as good of a paper after he sold it. Things started to disappear, like a society section, or style section, if you want to call it that.

"I'm not going to get involved in the individual story. I'm not going to say the story's not fair or accurate. I am going to get involved to add sections. I'm not going to write stories. This is not a full-time job for me. It is for Brian.

"I would hope to write a column. I haven't thought about format..certainly not a daily column."

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