City Hall Hellion: ‘Daily News’ Bureau Chief Erin Einhorn

Erin Einhorn, the new City Hall bureau chief for the Daily News, can seem confrontational even when she’s being polite.

Take last month, when she referred to the City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, as “ma’am” at a press conference, prompting a testy reply: “You can call me Speaker.” Ms. Quinn was still smarting from a series of Daily News articles questioning the city’s business with a building Ms. Quinn later moved into. (She eventually apologized.)

Or last year, when Ms. Einhorn asked Mayor Bloomberg about some recent events in Venezuela. “I don’t understand your question,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “What on Earth do we have to do with Hugo Chavez?”

“Well,” Ms. Einhorn deadpanned, “like you, he wanted to extend term limits.”But she might be best known for getting John Liu’s mother to rebut his own “sweatshop” claims during his comptroller campaign.

So, with Ms. Einhorn taking over the bureau chief duties from Adam Libserg-who departed to edit City Hall News and The Capitol-expect the vitriolic ink to flow!

Or not.

“My first act as bureau chief was to kill the [Sunday] column,” said Ms. Einhorn, speaking from the press trailer parked inside City Hall Park. Prior to its death, the column had been one of the largest arrows in the bureau chief’s quiver, an opportunity to take some opinionated shots at the mayor and the Council.The column was started by the paper’s one-time bureau chief, Kirsten Danis, and then passed to Mr. Lisberg, who filed his parting shot online earlier this month. (In an inglorious end, the final column did not run in the paper.)

“Frankly, I think it’s complicated to do a column when you’re trying to do objective, balanced news reporting,” she explained. “A good column is a point of view.”

In her reporting, Ms.  Einhorn strives to go deep.

Unable to pull a sufficient amount of details from her own mother about her family’s escape from the Holocaust, Ms. Einhorn took a year off from her reporting job in Philadelphia, flew to Poland, learned the language, and discovered a fraught relationship between her relatives and those who had helped them escape.

Her account, The Pages in Between, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2008, and This American Life dedicated an entire episode to the tale.  “Stories are a lot more complicated than at first blush,” said Ms. Einhorn, who speaks in a high-pitched, clipped manner and with unmistakable directness.

“In theory, even people who are doing bad things, they may not see them as bad things and may have some elaborate explanation in their own mind as to why this isn’t a bad thing, necessarily,” she said. “And I think a good news story can kind of reach for that too.”

City Hall Hellion: ‘Daily News’ Bureau Chief Erin Einhorn