Mort Zuckerman vs. the Daily News: An Owner Adrift

Last July, New York Daily News editor Martin Dunn abruptly left the paper due to his wife's illness. Kevin Convey, who'd been working as editor of the Boston Herald, was named his replacement. But now, we hear, unsatisfied NYDN owner Mort Zuckerman may already be poking around for Convey's successor.

In some ways, Zuckerman's impatience isn't surprising. Daily News sources say that the newsroom has been hearing rumors about Convey being a short timer ever since he was hired. We also hear that the paper, which was once eking out a profit, isn't making money at the moment. And earlier this month, the NYDN's cover featuring Donald Trump dressed as a clown drew Zuckerman into an extended public pissing match with Trump, which Zuckerman surely didn't enjoy—particularly when Convey could have gone with the brutal slaying of a PR man's girlfriend on the cover that day instead.

The upshot: we hear that Zuckerman has been asking around for opinions on the job Convey's doing—and getting a fair amount of negative feedback. Some in NYDN management say that Convey doesn't work hard enough, poking around on the internet during the day, leaving "as soon as the front page is done," and not coming in on the weekends. Then again, other newsroom sources tell us that Convey is fairly well-liked, if not absolutely beloved, and that he treats people respectfully and seems to keep normal work hours. (So make sure your sources are good, Mort.)

Mort Zuckerman vs. the Daily News: An Owner Adrift

Indeed, to hear some in the NYDN newsroom tell it, Zuckerman could do more to improve the paper by opening his own wallet than by shuffling editors. We hear that Adam Lisberg, the Daily News's City Hall bureau chief and one of the paper's top reporters, has quit. The reason, according to one source: "This place is cheap."

The newsroom is grumbling that Zuckerman won't spend on journalism talent, and that he knows real estate better than he knows the media, a complaint that has long hounded the mogul. The paper's management is clearly rife with conflict. Its finances are backsliding. And the problems extend beyond the NYDN: Zuckerman's other big media property, US News, long ago devolved into a shell of its former self. If all that wasn't enough, Zuckerman is still reeling from the blow his real estate empire sustained during the recession. And he has a two year-old daughter. No wonder he's grumpy.

Nobody said the media was an easy business, Mort. Just think of it like running a baseball team: sure, you have to fire the manager sometimes. But more often, you need to open your wallet and pay for some talent. You're competing with Rupert Murdoch. And he definitely doesn't have a problem paying to win.

[Photo of Zuckerman via AP]