Yes, at this late hour I sift around the net for things that interest me about Delaware County. Just do a Google search on “Gil Spencer Delaware County” and you”ll get some interesting results.
F. Gilman Spencer
Polk Career Award Winner
F. Gilman Spencer has done much more than preside as editor over major newspapers around the country — he also inspired and encouraged a generation of journalists and raised tabloid journalism to new heights. In his wake, he left a trail of top journalism honors won by the newspapers he edited, having won his own Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing while editor of The Trentonian in 1974. He went on to become editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, from 1975 to 1984, and editor of the New York Daily News, from 1984 to 1989. He served as editor of The Denver Post, from 1989 to 1993 and received a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Colorado in 1994. This brief history, however, hardly begins to describe the journalist who helped ignite the careers of many reporters, columnists and editorialists and energized news coverage in the cities his newspapers served. Some comments, excerpted from letters by those who worked with him over the years, shed more light on his accomplishments.
“Spencer is a writer’s editor, also an editor’s editor. Much of his career was spent on tabloids, and he was a genius at jumping on local news stories, covering the local sports teams, reaching out to the reader with grab-ya headlines, provocative editorials and terse chiseled prose. But unlike some tabloid editors, he never tried to pass off rumor as fact, and he liked substance and specialized in making it readable. Here’s an example: an obscure University of Pennsylvania scientist won the Nobel Prize. And the [Philadelphia] Daily News served it up to its readers in sports-crazy Philadelphia under this headline: ‘Phillies Fan Wins Nobel.’”
Gene Roberts, former managing editor of The New York Times, former executive editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and now professor of journalism at the University of Maryland.
“The Philadelphia Daily News, where I followed him as Editor, exists today because of Gil. He battled the ownership when it imagined a Joint Operating Agreement that would have driven the News out of business. More importantly, he created a formula — blending serious journalism with provocative opinion and pure fun — that kept readers and talented young journalists coming to the newspaper. All these years later, when the Philadelphia Daily News does something right, I attribute it to Gil.”
Zachary Stalberg, Editor, Philadelphia Daily News
“Gil was the mythic kind of editor who stands behind his people and also prods them to go into the difficult places that enlighten the readers while inevitably creating headaches for management. Gil never dodged the headaches: he also made sure the staff never noticed when he got them.”
Gail Collins, Editorial Page Editor, The New York Times
“In the mid-1980s, Gil led the New York Daily News to something of a golden era. He took over a demoralized paper that had been starved for resources by a distant corporate owner, restored its confidence and built it into the city’s dominant voice. Among the hallmarks were aggressive local coverage, unflinching editorials and an unparalleled stable of columnists.
“A tumultuous and high-energy city room became a Petri dish for talent. The alumni and alumnae include Marilyn Thompson, the Washington Post’s Pulitzer prize-wining projects’ editor; Gail Collins, The New York Times editorial page editor; columnists and commentators Jimmy Breslin and Jack Newfield; and Debbie Krenek, who rose to become editor of the News and now serves as Newsday’s presentation and multi-media editor.”
Arthur Brown, Editorial Page Editor, New York Daily News
“I would walk through fire for Gil Spencer. Hell, I would even cover a zoning board hearing for Gil Spencer. Gil is the kind of editor who inspires reporters and editors, who gets more out of a staff by turning them loose to do their best work.”
Richard Aregood, Editorial Page Editor, The Star Ledger
“If you were romanced by newspapering, then you were drawn to Gil Spencer, for his cocky self-assuredness, his style, his perfect wit…. Spencer was one of the titans of his era and, absolutely, the best tabloid editor of the last 50 years…. He was an editor of great consequence in two of the nation’s most important cities. The newspapers he ran performed with great distinction. And he did all of that in an enchanting manner. Gil Spencer is the stuff of greatnesss and worthy of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
So what’s the “F” stand for?