Marimow is fired as Inquirer editor

Posted: October 09, 2013

TWO-TIME Pulitzer Prize-winner Bill Marimow was fired yesterday as editor of the Inquirer, just 18 months after he returned to the job.

Publisher and company CEO Robert J. Hall said he made the decision because he and Marimow had butted heads about the direction of the newspaper.

"I had to make a very difficult decision," Hall said. "I respect Bill as a journalist very much. . . . We were having some philosophical differences on decisions for moving the Inquirer forward and I decided to go a different way."

The battle between Marimow and Hall had been ongoing.

"Bill and I had conversations about this for a number of months," Hall said. "It wasn't something where I got up this morning and said this was it."

Hall terminated Marimow shortly after Marimow attended a 10:30 a.m. news meeting.

"As part of Interstate General Media's corporate documents, this ownership group agreed not to be involved in the editorial affairs and journalistic operations of the Inquirer. The decision to terminate Bill Marimow as Editor of the Inquirer was made by me and Associate Publisher Mike Lorenca, which is within our authority to make such a decision," Hall said in a statement.

Although not required, five of six directors/owners of Interstate General Media - the parent company of the Inquirer, the Daily News and Philly.com - concurred in the decision to terminate Marimow, Hall said in the statement. Hall did not name the dissenter.

The owners include George E. Norcross III, a Democratic power broker in South Jersey; parking-lot magnate Lewis Katz; and philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest.

Sources within the company say Katz has been a strong Marimow ally.

"I came back to Philadelphia to edit the Inquirer because this is my home. The Inquirer, in effect, is my alma mater," Marimow, who had been teaching journalism at Arizona State University, told the Daily News yesterday.

"We have tried our hardest to produce excellent journalism under extreme difficult economic circumstances," he said, "and I believe we've done a good job."

In a termination letter dated yesterday, a copy of which was obtained by the Daily News, Hall informed Marimow that his performance "has not been satisfactory and you have failed to fully comply with the corrective action directives that were delivered to you on August 7, 2013."

Marimow will continue to be paid until April 30, the letter says.

An Inquirer reporter asked Hall yesterday afternoon if Marimow had been fired because he refused to ax some staffers, but Hall said he wouldn't comment.

When word spread that Marimow was out, some Inquirer staffers were visibly upset and expressed shock and dismay.

Marimow, a Havertown native, joined the Inquirer in 1972, winning two Pulitzers for his investigations of police misconduct.

He became editor of the Inquirer in 2006, but former publisher Greg Osberg removed him in 2010 a few days after taking control of the newspaper, saying that he wanted an editor with more digital-media experience.

Marimow was rehired in April 2012 when the current ownership purchased the company.

Stan Wischnowski, who succeeded Marimow under the previous ownership, was named acting editor.

"There is no telling what the future holds," Marimow said, "but I hope I'll be back."

Marimow received a standing ovation from his colleagues as he left the newsroom at 6:44 p.m.


On Twitter: @barbaralaker

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