With constant speculation about the future of the Inquirer and Daily News swirling, the president of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia has resigned.
Dan Gross says he informed the executive board Tuesday night of his decision to step down, effective immediately. He will leave his post as a columnist at the Daily News in February.
He served as Guild president since 2009 and says he’s taking the buyout package because the time is right for him and his family.
“I felt that it would be not prudent nor fair for me to be involved in any kind of discussions with the ownership or management regarding the future of the guild members or the papers or the website — be involved in any of those kind of decisions if I knew that I wouldn’t be here under whatever future we’re working towards,” he said.
After leaving the Daily News, Gross says he will pursue other interests and opportunities.
The owners of Philadelphia’s two major newspapers have declined to comment on Guild reports that the company is threatening to sell or liquidate unless they reach tentative agreements with labor unions by Friday.
Gross says his time in guild leadership has been difficult but also very rewarding.
“I’ve really learned a lot from this experience of being the President of the Guild,” he said. “I mean it’s been kind of crazy. There was a bankruptcy, there was an auction of the company, there’s been another sale. There’s been various threats and layoffs and all kinds of drama and problems in that time.”
Gross says he’s received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from his colleagues at the papers. He says this is a personal decision not based on inside knowledge.
“I keep telling people I don’t know any more than they do, about what the future holds,” he said.
Gross started at the Daily News part-time as an editorial assistant in 1998 and has written the gossip column since 2004.
Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky says of his departing fellow columnist, “As my protégée, as a columnist, as a union leader, as a person, Dan will be greatly missed. In everything he undertook, he was honest, straight-forward, smart and usually funny. That’s a rare combination for any biped. It’s a sorry reflection on the state of journalism today that we couldn’t keep him chained to a desk, like a dog. Oh! He also lives with two dogs. And a cat. And a wife. And a daughter. And I suspect their future welfare was a driving motivation in the tough and sad decision he had to make.”
Inquirer business columnist Joe DiStefano says Gross will be missed. “It’s a big job and he put his all into it while also managing family and relentless reporting at the Daily News. Dan has been part of a strong committee and they’ll continue to represent us with our owners, as they have with past owner groups.”