The New York Observer has an “inside Bill Marimow’s last day at the Philadelphia Inquirer” story, and it fleshes out what, ahem, observers have known for awhile: The newspaper journos hate Philly.com, which competes with their paid website while using the content for free.
“The 2 pm publisher meeting with [Mr.] Hall was the nastiest we’ve ever had. You know what newsrooms are like — you get tough questions,” the insider said. “But this was way beyond just ‘tough questions.’ It wasn’t the same old gang who like to hear themselves talk. This time it was a features person and an otherwise quiet business reporter who doesn’t even go to these things” who asked if Philly.com even makes money.
The relationship between Philly.com and the two newspapers has been strained since the website uses a lot of content from the two newspapers while sometimes competing against them.
“There’s a lot of concern over the digital strategy. Philly.com uses a lot of content from the two newspapers and there’s been a quiet war between the newspapers on the one hand and Philly.com on the other,” said the source.
Explained the source: “We got new web pages at Inky and DN but they’re not being promoted and the gateway is very frustrating for people. It’s the stupidest thing in the world. There’s a paywall to get to our content from our own website but then almost 100% of our content is taken by Philly.com, which has no paywall. And there’s a lack of interest in supporting the papers and people believe giving Philly.com our content is a way to develop Philly.com and also wean philly.com from needing so much newspaper content.”
When the paywalled news sites for the Inky and Daily News went online, it appeared the new owners might have a strategy in mind—but Philly.com’s ability to provide that same content for free does make one wonder why the new owners even bothered with the investment. Which doesn’t seem to have much to do with Marimow’s firing—except to the extent he apparently tried to protect the Inky’s prerogatives—but there you go.