The Press: Philadelphia Story

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Toughest. Moe Annenberg hates Dave Stern with a cold, unrelenting fury. Dave Stern belongs to the uppercrust of Philadelphia Jewish society and Moe Annenberg made his money selling racing dope. Besides, Dave Stern stands between Annenberg and domination of the morning field. Although the Inquirer's, 370,000 circulation is a good deal larger than the Record's, the paper loses over $500,000 a year, has cost Publisher Annenberg an estimated $2,000,000 since he bought it from the estate of wine-bibbing, fun-loving James Elverson in 1936. Subexecutives have hung little red tags on the copy desk lamps reading "Please turn off when not in use," but Moe Annenberg remains munificent. He spends some $25,000 a week on promotion, recently had to be argued out of cutting the paper's price to 2¢ (all Philadelphia papers went from 2¢ to 3¢ last year). When some underling suggests that one of his ideas will be expensive he generally snaps: "It's my money, isn't it?"

Newest of Philadelphia's publishers, Moe Annenberg is the most feared of all. Yet in his quest for respectability he has not been unmindful of the ethics of his profession. Two months ago the Inquirer posted on its masthead the slogan: "An Independent Newspaper for All the People," and it has kept its promise of independence. It has soured on Governor James, whom it helped to elect, has roasted the Legislature for killing Philadelphia's much-needed City Charter Bill, will back a Democratic mayoralty ticket next fall if Annenberg does not like the Republican nominee. Publisher Annenberg likes to think of himself as a crusader, wound up one editorial with a neat metaphorical blend: "Political skunks can wear themselves out directing their poison gas at me. I shall continue to do my duty."

The Inquirer's, staff likes the big parties he gives and the big bonuses he hands out. His men admire him, too, for insisting that the paper run the story of his income tax troubles (TIME, May 1) on the front page. Advertisers think the Inquirer's, circulation has been inflated by $12 clocks given with ($4) subscriptions, believe it will eventually drop back to about 300,000 daily and 500,000 Sunday. (Present Sunday circulation is 1,000,000, but nearly half of that is "jackrabbit," a predated edition circulated from Maine to California—Peoria, Ill. accounts for 5,000 copies—and distributed by newsdealers who make huge profits selling Annenberg racing sheets.)

Last week Moe Annenberg went fishing in the Pike County lake where Transit Magnate Thomas Eugene Mitten was drowned in 1929. Moses L. Annenberg had no intention of drowning, but he wanted to think over a scheme to start a Camden paper in the fall. It would cost a lot of money, but it might drown David Stern.

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