The mess at Philadelphia’s newspapers: A timeline of recent events

The co-owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer, philly.com and the Daily News are giving their reporters lots to write about with a lawsuit in response to another lawsuit in response to a firing  – OK. Wait. Let’s just stop for a moment and take a look back in time at where this all began.

October 8, 2010: Bill Marimow loses his job as editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The paper’s owners told Marimow “he did not have the background in digital media necessary to lead the paper going forward,” Christoper K. Hepp reports at the time. Stan Wischnowski is named acting editor.

April 2, 2012: A group of local bigs buys the Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and philly.com. The new owners say they will “sign a pledge supporting the newsroom’s independence, after questions about interference arose over coverage of the sale,” Poynter reports.

April 4, 2012: Marimow is rehired as editor. Wischnowski takes a lesser role. New owner Lewis Katz tells Poynter he didn’t think they needed a written pledge not to interfere: “Frankly, I thought a public statement was enough, but [fellow new owner] George [Norcross] felt stronger that it ought to be in writing.”

Oct. 7, 2013: Marimow is fired. Wischnowski becomes acting editor. A source at the paper tells Poynter Marimow lost his job due to a “difference in philosophical vision in the direction of the paper.” Among Publisher Bob Hall’s knocks on Marimow: He didn’t “support [the] company’s digital strategy for Philly.com and Inquirer.com.”.

Oct. 10: Owners Katz and H.F. Lenfest file suit trying to bring Marimow back, claiming Hall wasn’t authorized to fire Marimow.

Oct. 14: “Philadelphia deserves better,” David Carr writes of the owners’ struggle for control.

Oct. 15: The owners (except Katz, who was in the Bahamas) hold a special meeting agreeing to form a committee to defend the ownership group, Interstate General Media, and two special committee to investigate Katz’s alleged interference with editorial matters and any alleged conflicts of interest on his part. (The actions are detailed in an action filed Oct. 18.)

Oct. 16: The owners meet with officers from the Newspaper Guild. An Inquirer reporter is not allowed to attend. “One observer said it became apparent that neither owner would give in, short of ‘complete annihilation’ of the other,” Thomas Fitzgerald reports. The Guild warns members to “BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY in email correspondence, tweets, Facebook posts, etc. … especially with regard to comments about the present in-fighting and management/ownership personnel and your colleagues.”

Oct. 17: Norcross files a countersuit. Katz has “repeatedly violated” his pledge not to interfere with the newsroom, a press release announcing the action says.

Oct. 18: Hall moves to dismiss Katz’s suit. The filing says Marimow had a “stubborn and indeed often insubordinate refusal to follow directives or implement much-needed editorial, journalistic and personnel changes at The Inquirer, resulting in a significant decline in circulation and morale problems in the newsroom during his second troubled tenure as The Inquirer’s Editor.” Hall, associate publisher Michael Lorenca and co-owner Gerry Lenfest warned Marimow in July he’d be terminated if he didn’t make some changes, Hall’s action says.

This timeline will, no doubt, be updated.

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