Michael Days back as editor of Daily News; Larry Platt steps aside

     

    Michael Days is returning as editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, completing the re-set of the leadership of the city’s daily papers since new owners bought their parent company last month.

    Days and Bill Marimow edited the Daily News and Inquirer under publisher Brian Tierney, and both lost their posts after Tierney lost the company to investors in a 2010 bankruptcy sale.

    Marimow had to move back from Arizona to take over the Inquirer a few weeks back. Days will only have to move a couple of floors. He’d been parked in a management job at the Inquirer.

    Current Daily News editor Larry Platt announced today he would not seek renewal of his two-year contract, and that June 8th would be his last day. He’s writing a book with the ageless wonder of major league pitchers, Jamie Moyer, and will be contributing columnist for the Inquirer.

    A Daily News reporter told me publisher Bob Hall came to the newsroom for a late afternoon meeting and after thanking Platt, said the new editor should be walking through the door. Everyone looked at the door, and after a pause, Days walked into applause and cheers.

    I’m told there was no applause for Platt and little if any well-wishing.

    (I don’t think Platt’s departure is any way related to the controversial front page I wrote about earlier today.)

    Here’s a note publisher Bob Hall wrote to the staff:

    Today Larry Platt shared the news with me that he will not be renewing his contract as Editor of the Daily News and will be stepping down from that leadership role effective Friday, June 8.  I am pleased to report that Larry will be joining a most impressive roster of our Contributing Columnists that appear frequently in The Inquirer.  Please join me in thanking Larry for his leadership of one of our most prized publications, and congratulating him on his new, forthcoming columnist role.

    I am very excited to announce that Michael Days has agreed to return as Editor of the Daily News with a fresh and very new perspective that will allow us to continue developing an edgy and exciting daily read for our loyal print and digital readership, in addition to many potential new readers in our city and region.  Michael will be providing important experience to the required demands of this position for further leveraging new research and greater reader engagement in driving circulation, advertising and always exceptional content.

    Congratulations, Michael, on your return to the Daily News.  I know you will make our future plans for the Daily News a great success.

    Bob

    Here’s the text of an email Platt sent to the Daily News staff today:

    I let Bob Hall know this week that I wouldn’t be renewing my contract as editor of the Daily News. As you know, I have what has evolved into a big book due in a few months that I’m woefully behind on and I desperately need to focus on that. We started talking about other ways that I can remain part of the PMN family, and Bill Marimow graciously offered to have me pen a regular column in the Inquirer going forward. As some of you know, I never looked at this gig as a long-term play for me. I have long loved the Daily News, and I was jazzed by the challenge of being a change-agent, of remaking the publication that I grew up poring over. And, boy, did we embark on some change: a redesign, a new focus for both news and features, an entirely new product, SportsWeek, a new content management system. It often feels like the last year and a half has been nothing but change, some of them wrenching. Even with all that upheaval, you guys produced the sort of journalism that any editor would brag about. From Ackerman and Masch to the elected DROP whores, we held the powerful accountable in a way only the Daily News can. We challenged the tired tenets of he said/she said reporting by telling stories with more of a point of a view than ever before. We introduced a host of new voices to our readers, including Charles Barkley, Marc Lamont Hill, Jason Wilson and Big Rube. From “WTF?” and “Worst. Weekend. Ever” to “We Are Nitt-Wits” and “Sucking On The Public Tweet”, we set the agenda for how Philly would talk about what it talks about. And we created SportsWeek, which, in three market research surveys, has tallied the highest reader satisfaction results of any publication I’ve ever been associated with. You’ve produced this groundbreaking weekly product with virtually no additional resources and without complaint, which speaks volumes about your collective character. We have had some good, if mixed, results. Newsstand circulation of the Daily News dropped in the fourth quarter last year, but our overall print readership is at its highest in four years. Factor in our disproportionate performance on philly.com, where DN stories generate some 45% of the traffic despite our comparative dearth of resources, and the conclusion for those of us on the creative side is inescapable: that the Daily News isn’t just an increasingly popular voice among readers, it’s also a necessary one — for this city and for this company. There’s a lot of angst about the future here, but take some comfort in the fact that storytelling is as old as our history, and it’s not going away. Right now, readers and users are sorting out how they’re going to access those stories. Your job is to embrace that change, not fear it. Instead of being “platform-agnostic” we should become “platform-specific” — tailoring our voice and subject matter to the particular ways our readers opt to engage us. The key is that they stay engaged, and a feisty city tabloid does that by being provocative while remaining fair, and sensationalistic while remaining journalistically responsible. That’s not always an easy balancing act, but one I know you guys can pull off. On a final note, I’ve never worked with a better group of people. In true Philly fashion, this staff know how to take a punch (and, when warranted, throw a few) and keep on going. The way you all have weathered our various storms has been inspirational. So my last day will be Friday, June 8. Bob Hall will come down to the newsroom at 4:30 pm today to talk about the next steps for this place. Keep up the good work. Best, LP

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