Osberg out as publisher of Daily News, Inquirer – Bob Hall is back

    Greg Osberg, the subject of a lot of controversy in February, has stepped down as publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, which were bought by a group of local investors a few weeks back.

    He’ll stay on as a consultant for advertising and digital media, and will be replaced as publisher and CEO by Bob Hall, who was publisher of both papers for many years when they were owned by Knight Ridder.

    I won’t bother to repeat the rumors and speculation I’ve heard about what’s behind the moves, because I’m not sure what to make of it. But here’s the official news release:

    OSBERG TO STEP DOWN AS PUBLISHER OF

    PHILADELPHIA MEDIA NETWORK

    Will remain as advisor to focus on digital strategies and ad sales

     

    Philadelphia – Greg Osberg, who led The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com out of bankruptcy in 2010 and then led the company’s resale in April, announced today that he will step down as Publisher and CEO of Philadelphia Media Network (PMN), the parent company that operates all three publications.

    At the request of the new ownership team, Osberg has agreed to remain with PMN as an advisor to focus on digital strategies and advertising sales.  In his place, current Chief Operating Officer Bob Hall has been named Publisher and CEO.

     “This is the right time for me to step aside so that our new owners can move forward with a new leadership team,” Osberg said.  “When I took over as Publisher, my priorities were to stabilize the company as it emerged from bankruptcy, expand its digital initiatives, and identify and secure new local ownership of the company.

    “The company has achieved these goals, and thanks to the investment being made by our new owners, the enterprise has stabilized and is positioned very well for long-term growth.”

    “Greg’s leadership was instrumental in bringing together the new local owners,” said Lewis Katz, who serves as the co-managing partner of the ownership team along with South Jersey business executive George E. Norcross III.  “We are grateful for the time and energy that Greg devoted to the sale, and for his dedication to the goal of securing local investment in the company.”

     “We are pleased that Greg has agreed to continue to work with the company to drive advertising sales and help formulate digital strategies,” Katz said.  “And we are very confident that the company will thrive under the seasoned leadership of Bob Hall, who is known and respected throughout the industry as a first-class professional. Bob understands Philadelphia and every detail of the company’s operations.”

    Said Norcross: “In his new advisory role, Greg’s advertising, marketing and digital management experience will continue to be an important resource for our ownership group.”

    Hall served as Publisher and CEO from 1990 to 2003, and returned as COO in 2010.  “It’s a privilege to return to the helm of this company, which has been through some difficult times and now is emerging with the opportunity to be better than ever,” Hall said.  “The Inquirer and Daily News have won Pulitzer Prizes in the last two years.  We have outstanding professionals working in every phase of our business, and I look forward to the challenge of growing our business and guiding the company into the future.”

    Hall, Chief Operating Officer of Philadelphia Media Network since April 2010, has had a long history with the city’s major newspapers and has held executive positions in the newspaper industry for more than 30 years. He served as Chairman and Publisher of Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., the Publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, from 1990 to 2003 and held various financial and administrative executive positions from 1973 to 1985. He spent five years as General Manager and then Publisher and Chairman of the Detroit Free Press between his stints at the Philadelphia newspapers.  A native Philadelphian, Hall is a CPA and a graduate of Drexel University, where he was recognized as one of their top 100 alumni.

    Osberg has spent more than 30 years in the news business.  Prior to his tenure with PMN, he served as President and CEO of Buzzwire, where he led the mobile media company’s development of a new business model to deliver news and other content on the mobile web.  Before that, Osberg held a number of leadership positions with Washington Post Inc., CNET, and U.S. News and World Report.

     While at Washington Post Inc., he was the President and Worldwide Publisher of Newsweek, where he re-launched Newsweek.com. During that time, Osberg managed a strategic partnership with MSNBC.com and MSN that resulted in Newsweek.com becoming the world’s largest newsmagazine website.  In 2005 he received Adweek’s Executive team (Publisher/Editor) of the year award.

     “I am extremely proud of all of our employees, who have persevered under often difficult conditions in recent years,” Osberg said.  “Our newsrooms have delivered excellent, award-winning journalism, and the content they create on a daily basis is the single most important asset we have in growing our business for the future.”

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