Dan Gross and I have been among the last of the moccasins — Philly gossip writers in print and online — for some time. I’ve always liked him, his dry sense of snark and distinct air of honor. I dig Dan. So it hit hard when the Daily News scribe told readers and co-workers he’d be stepping down from the paper as of Feb. 1. Because I respect him, I wanted to be Gross’ last interview before his final column (which comes out the day City Paper prints), in which he’ll announce his replacement. No, he wouldn’t reveal the “highly approved” colleague who will replace him on the gossip page (my guess is Chuck Darrow or ex-CP staffer Molly Eichel). Yes, he joked about the local bloggers it would definitely not be. Mostly, he spoke of his 14 years at Daily News and nine years of gossip writing. “I’ll miss the freedom of doing that type of reporting, being trusted and left on my own,” says Gross. But “After all that time, I was honestly curious as to what else I could do and what other opportunities might be available to me.” The offer of a buyout seemed like the perfect time to jump on that curiousity, he says, and “in terms of legitimate contemplation, it was only about a week.” Gross also served as president of the Newspaper Guild, repping the Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com in labor negotiations; Howard Gensler will take over that role. “I was concerned that my co-workers might think I was abandoning the union post, but they have been very supportive. It was the right move for me.” No, there isn’t another ship he’s jumping to or a singular form of narrative he’s aiming at. He’s “not looking to write the Great American Novel,” but would like to try various writing forms “inside and outside of journalism.” Though Gross hasn’t spoken to any potential employers, he’s hoping to stay in Philly. In terms of the Daily News and the Inquirer, Gross believes newsprint will prevail for some time and that the papers’ current owners (Gerry Lenfest and George Norcross, among others, under the umbrella of Interstate General Media) are honorable. “I think their commitment is solid because most of their money comes from the print side. Obviously there’s an effort on growing the digital side and its revenue, but print isn’t going away.” Speaking of print and going away, knowing that he loves the papers and would miss this gig, my last question was a simple one: Other than the big reveal, what will his last column focus on? “The Wing Bowl,” he laughs. “That’s only fitting. I’m hoping to cover it with as much responsibility and professionalism that the sport deserves. And now, maybe after years of such urgings from drunken fans, maybe I’ll finally show my tits.” Bravo.
Icepack’s responsibility and professionalism continue at citypaper.net/criticalmass.