UPDATED AT 5:32 p.m. WEDNESDAY:
Well, that didn’t take long.
Two days after the sale of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com to local investors who promised to respect the highest standards of journalism, the Inquirer is bringing back Bill Marimow, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning former editor of the paper.
He’s been in an academic post at Arizona State University.
It’s a remarkable turn of events, since Marimow lost his job as editor when Greg Osberg became publisher of the papers. The new owners said Monday they’re keeping Osberg, and I wrote then that he would be smart to hire someone who’s journalistic credentials are impeccable – like Bill Marimow.
In a telephone interview today, Marimow told me that Osberg himself had offered the job, and he’d accepted.
I asked if Osberg had talked about why he’d replaced Marimow as editor before.
“My feeling, honestly, is that he has the prerogative to replace me, and I said that at time,” Marimow said. “And he has the prerogative to rehire me.”
Marimow said he hadn’t spoken with the investors who bought the company Monday, but that he took the job in part because he believes strongly in local ownership.(CORRECTION: I misunderstood – Marimow did speak to at least one of the investors he’s known for a long time, but they did not offer him the position – that was Osberg).
“I believe these investors really care deeply about their community,” Marimow said. “They want to have a viable business, but the vialble business is balanced with public service and great journalism.”
Here’s the statement that Osberg put out to the staff (The Stan referred to is Stan Wischnowksi, the Inquirer’s current editor) :
I just met with Stan and his Editorial Management to announce that Bill Marimow will be rejoining The Inquirer as Editor. Coming off the IRE award for investigative journalism and a decision to increase our commitment and resources to investigative journalism, we decided that Bill would be an excellent choice to lead that charge. As many of you know, Bill did an outstanding job for us in his investigative reporting of the SRC and former Superintendent Ackerman before leaving us to teach at ASU’s Walter Cronkite’s School of Journalism last year. We’re happy he has decided to rejoin The Inquirer and we welcome him back to his hometown….Philadelphia.
Stan will remain with The Inquirer as one of the key Executive Editors on Bill’s team. I want to personally thank him for his leadership through a challenging period in our company’s history and for deciding to help us as we go forward with new ownership.
Bill will be starting on May 1st. Please join me in welcoming him back to PMN and thanking Stan for his many contributions. The press release is attached for your review.
Gregory J. Osberg
Publisher and Chief Executive Officer
Philadelphia Media Network, Inc.
And the company press release:
WILLIAM K. MARIMOW TO RETURN AS EDITOR OFTHE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRERSignaling to readers and leaders alike that investigative journalism will be a key to the company’s revival, Philadelphia Media Network Publisher and CEO Greg Osberg announced today that William K. Marimow, one of the most distinguished journalists in the company’s history, will return as Editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer.Marimow, who earned two Pulitzer Prizes as an Inquirer reporter in 1978 and 1985 before returning to serve as the newspaper’s Editor from 2006 to 2010, will return again to lead an expansion of the newspaper’s investigative journalism work – a central element in the company’s plan to produce ever-more compelling content to boost circulation and readership.Marimow’s rehiring was announced just two days after the company’s new local ownership group pledged a policy of strict non-interference with news decisions.“Bill Marimow is one of the most respected journalists in the nation, and his return reinforces the company’s commitment to aggressive investigative reporting,” said Osberg. “The message today is that we are going to devote even more time and resources to reporting the high-quality stories that our readers deserve and demand. And to be clear: When the facts warrant it, nobody will get a free pass.”“Bill is the best in the business to lead this effort, and it is great news for our readers and for our journalists that he is back in the fold.”Current Inquirer Editor Stan Wischnowski will remain with the newspaper and continue working as part of the newspaper’s editorial leadership team, serving as one of Marimow’s top deputies. Marimow is expected to begin work on May 1.“I’m tremendously excited about returning, once again, to my home town and to The Inquirer,” Marimow said. “It will be a privilege to work alongside newsroom colleagues who have continued to produce great journalism despite the toughest economic conditions I’ve ever experienced.-more-Marimow Returns to The InquirerApril 4, 2012Page 2“My goal is to make sure that we’re producing indispensable content in print and on-line that our audience will have to read,” he said. “We have to be excellent in every nook and cranny of our coverage – whether it’s scrutinizing our schools, the quality of the Eagles draft choices, or the Van Gogh exhibition at The Philadelphia Museum of Art.“I’m also looking forward to continuing my close working relationship with Stan Wischnowski, who has led The Inquirer newsroom with skill and determination over the past 18 months,” Marimow said. “During my time as editor, I relied on Stan for his guidance, creativity and expertise, and I know I’ll be doing so again in the months to come.”Marimow, 64, has been teaching journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University since last year. Before that, he worked as an investigative reporter for the paper after stepping down as Editor in 2010. Marimow was Managing Editor and Vice President of news for National Public Radio from 2004 to 2006, and served as metropolitan editor, managing editor and Editor of The Baltimore Sun from 1993 to 2004.His journalism career in Philadelphia reaches back over four decades to April 1970, when he joined The Evening Bulletin as the assistant to syndicated economics columnist J.A. Livingston. He joined The Inquirer in July 1972 as a reporter covering business. For the next 15 years he reported on a variety of issues, including economics, labor, City Hall, and the courts. Marimow and a partner, Jonathan Neumann, wrote a series of stories about criminal violence by Philadelphia police officers that earned The Inquirer the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1978. Seven years later, he won the Pulitzer for Investigative Reporting for a series of stories about police K-9 officers whose dogs attacked and mauled innocent, unarmed citizens.He will return to a newspaper that has continued to produce outstanding investigative journalism. Most recently, on Monday it was announced that The Inquirer won the prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Award for its seven-part series “Assault on Learning,” focusing on violence in Philadelphia schools.“We believe that Philadelphia Media Network can become the most dominant regional media company in America,” Osberg said. “Bill Marimow’s return is an important step in the right direction, and we are delighted to have him back.”