Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Social Club for Journos Endures in Philly

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Social Club for Journos Endures in Philly

Article excerpt

For the "ink-stained wretches" in Philadelphia, it might seem the sky is set to fall at any moment since the McClatchy/Knight Ridder deal was sealed. Fortunately, there's at least one thing they don't have to worry about closing: the city's Pen & Pencil Club, the nation's oldest press frat.

Borrowing from speakeasys of yore, the Pen & Pencil is housed in a unmarked building at 1522 Latimer St. in Center City. Ring a buzzer, and with the right credentials -- there's a camera to check -- those in need of a cocktail may gain admittance.

Anyone can join for $40 a year, even non-Philly residents. Of the club's 400 members, about half are considered "full" -- a status reserved for active journalists working in print, radio, and TV. Associate members, or "friends of the media," make up a more eclectic roster. This group includes flacks, politicians, musicians, and even restaurant types looking for relief after a night of slinging hash.

"There's a misconception the place is only for reporters and editors at newspapers," says Chris Brennan, the club's president and a staff writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. "It's really for everybody."

The Pen & Pencil opened in 1892, through the merger of three other clubs in the city. At that time, Philly was swimming in ink and newsprint, with seven morning and six evening papers. Says Brennan, "I guess it's fair to say the club has gone through its peaks and valleys."

Indeed, the club was in danger of closing back in 1990. Due to declining revenues, the Pen & Pencil called a meeting to disband the club. …

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