This week’s Brooklyn Paper Radio had big news — make that News.
Co-host Gersh Kuntzman, who left his job as a Daily News columnist only last week, revealed the inside scoop on Monday’s sale of the Daily News to Tronc — information he was able to obtain because access to his Daily News e-mail account wasn’t restricted until after the long holiday weekend.
The trove of details included an internal memo from former Publisher Eric Gertler, which Kuntzman skimmed through on the air; details from a Tuesday “town hall” meeting between Daily News employees and their new Tronc bosses; and confirmation that News editor-in-chief Arthur Browne would be relieved of his post in December.
Kuntzman, who starts Friday as Breaking News Editor at Newsweek after a five-year run at the News, described Browne’s yearlong tenure — during which he enlisted Kuntzman to write the straight-to-digital political novel “Coup!” — as a “roller coaster ride — but only the part of the roller coaster from the top of the first hill to the bottom of the first hill.”
Co-host Vince DiMiceli suggested that Kuntzman’s interest in the Daily News sale — and in Browne’s demise — was just “personal,” but Kuntzman denied it.
“All I wanted to do was help save the paper,” he said. “I wanted to innovate with videos, podcasts, real feature coverage, etc, so the advertising staff could sell ads, rather than just calling up the usual suspects.”
Then, as part of a broader discussion of the future of journalism, DiMiceli and Kuntzman — the Lennon and McCartney of Community Journalism — reached out to Ed Weintrob, former publisher of The Brooklyn Paper, who said Kuntzman perhaps should have stayed at the Daily News.
“You’re a great editor, Gersh,” he said. “But if you had stayed, you probably would have gotten a buyout from Tronc.”
But on a larger level, Weintrob, who has been in newspapers for all but 10 of his 60-plus years on planet Earth, said the sale to Tronc won’t matter because “the Daily News has been the walking dead for 20 years.”
Weintrob, who now edits an ethnic weekly in the so-called “Five Towns” on Long Island, said the future of journalism is providing high-quality content to a tightly targeted audience.
“We’re doing fine out here,” Weintrob said of his beloved Jewish Star. “So put on a yarmulke and come join me. Stop just chasing clicks and instead do coverage that your readers want.”
Kuntzman reminded Weintrob — and the world — that he generated more than 10 million pageviews in a year. DiMiceli disagreed that the numbers even matter.
“It’s not the number of clips, but the engagement numbers,” DiMiceli said.
Kuntzman was frustrated: “So what’s the answer, Weintrob?”
“The Daily News should do is what it should have done 20 years ago,” he said. “It’s the hometown paper of New York, so it needs exciting, substantial, local content.”
In a related part of the show, Kuntzman mentioned that Tronc bought the Daily News for just $1 — albeit assuming the paper’s massive debt. believed to be between more than $30 million.
“That reminds me of the plot of Vince and my forthcoming murder thriller, ‘Debt Service,’ ” Kuntzman said.
In the book, which is available to any reputable publisher for a $100,000 advance, 50 to 90-year-old men and women are getting killed all over town — and no one can solve the crime.
“The NYPD brings in a profiler, but he can’t figure it out because the victims are men and women, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, some have disabilities, some don’t — they cross all the lines,” Kuntzman said. “Eventually, an investigative reporter figures out that all the victims are Daily News pensioners, who are being killed off one by one so the paper can finally be sold because it no longer has any pension liabilities!”
“It’s genius,” DiMiceli said.
“Yeah, and the book isn’t bad either!” Kuntzman retorted.
Finally, Kuntzman announced that it was finally his last show because he’ll start at Newsweek on Friday.
“That’s all, folks!” he said.
“Yeah, yeah, see you next week,” DiMiceli deadpanned.
Brooklyn Paper radio is recorded and podcast live every Tuesday at 4 pm — for your convenience — from our studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, right here on Brook
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