[Update 3:08 pm with comment from Howard Gensler]
It’s official: The newspaper war in Philadelphia has become — in part — a battle for the hearts and minds of journalists at the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com.
Those journalists on Friday received memos from Gerry Lenfest and Lewis Katz, members of the “minority faction” of owners challenging the firing of former Inquirer editor Bill Marimow. The emails were distributed two days after journalists received a letter from George Norcross and William P. Hankowsky describing the issues facing the company and how his group planned to address them.
It’s unusual for an ownership battle to play out in a company’s workforce — the Newspaper Guild has offered to broker peace, but has otherwise insisted it will remain neutral — and it has raised concerns about both workplace morale and the continuing credibility of the news organizations.
“I think it started with George Norcross suggesting he was going to meet with small groups to pitch his story,” said Christine Reimert, a spokeswoman for Katz and Lenfest. “That can’t be one-sided.”
“The reason why any of this is public is because Lewis Katz and Gerry Lenfest decided to sue the company,” said Daniel Fee, a spokesman for Norcross’s faction. Norcross’s group of owners “thought it was incredibly important that employees knew the truth, and to provide them with more information about the performance and direction of the company than they’ve had before.”
Howard Gensler, president of the Newspaper Guild, said Friday afternoon that “owners always have a right to speak to their employees” but added: “At this point, however, I wish all the owners would stop communicating with the Guild and/or its members and either solve this themselves or let the court figure something out.”
“I find it constantly amusing that after years of trying to get ownership groups to listen to us to no avail, now suddenly our input is important,” Gensler said via email. “It wasn’t important when we argued against Saxotech, the online strategy, filed grievances against Marimow over newsroom job changes and questioned the elimination of one of the Inquirer editorial pages, or when these very same owners took $6 million out of our paychecks in February. … This is a procedural battle for power based on an ownership agreement among industry titans accustomed to getting their own way – and it only divides our membership to pretend our opinion matters.”
And, he added: “Every day this goes on it has an adverse affect on our membership because people are working under added fear and pressure and their credibility is questioned because of ownership claims from both sides that the owners are meddling in the news coverage.”
It was clear the duel was creating some frustration among reporters, photographers and editors at the news organizations.
“When they write the book about the current situation, it should be done as satire,” Gar Joseph, assistant managing editor of the Daily News tweeted in an apparent reaction, moments after the Katz and Lenfest letters were distributed. “It will write itself.”
In their letters (printed in full below) Katz and Lenfest accused Norcross’s group of, among other things, improperly interfering with the journalistic and editorial decisions of the news organizations; presiding over the bottoming-out of national advertising at the newspapers; and also presiding over a precipitous fall in traffic at Philly.com — though they pointed out that circulation at the papers had otherwise increased under Marimow’s stewardship.
“For any newspaper or media outlet to be credible, it must be viewed as truly independent and free of interference,” Lenfest wrote. “This integrity is what is at stake in our lawsuit.”
Insiders familiar with philly.com practices acknowledged the numbers had changed — but said that reflected a change in how visits were counted. Under the previous regime, a person viewing (say) a photo gallery of the Philly Naked Bike Ride could count as much as 20 or 30 visits, depending on how many photos they viewed. Under the new counting, one person looking at one photo gallery counts once. Such a change in counting helps shift editorial decisions for the website, it was explained, making the site less likely to rely on Lingerie Football photo galleries as a source of traffic.
Fee said that Lenfest and Katz had sat in meetings and had been made aware of those counting changes. “It raises real questions about whether they understand the business,” he said.
In their Wednesday letter, Norcross and Hankowsky pointed out that the newspapers had collectively lost substantial revenue and circulation over the previous decade. He denied meddling in the news/editorial affairs of the newspaper, saying publisher Robert Hall was empowered under the ownership structure to make the decision to fire Marimow.
Increasing revenues, they said, will help increase the amount of local journalism the papers and Philly.com are able to do.
“Let’s figure out a way to have more people buy the Inquirer every day and on Sundays, buy the Daily News every day, advertise in both papers, monetize the websites and advertise on the websites,” the pair wrote. “That’s all we’re trying to do.”
Even the act of sending the emails has become controversial. Katz and Lenfest intended their letters to be distributed in a single document, but journalists received them as two documents.
All parties are expected back in court on Wednesday for a hearing on whether Marimow will be restored to his old job.
The full memos below:
To: All IGM Employees
From: H. F. Gerry Lenfest
Dear IGM Employees:
Over the last few weeks you have read repeated accounts of the disagreements among the owners of this company. I know that this is difficult to witness because in the end it is your livelihood that is at stake. But I also believe that there is an important principle at stake – a principle that affects how you do your job every day and a principle that is at the heart and soul of a free press. This principle is independence. It is important not only to you but to every citizen of our community.
For any newspaper or media outlet to be credible, it must be viewed as truly independent and free of interference. This integrity is what is at stake in our lawsuit. Over the last several months, this principle has been seriously eroding at The Philadelphia Inquirer. My record will substantiate that I am not a litigious person, but in the end, I and Lewis Katz agreed to file a lawsuit at our expense to defend the integrity and independence of our Philadelphia newspapers.
Bill Marimow was fired because he resisted the interference of George Norcross in the editorial and journalistic decisions of the Inquirer. While there are countless examples of Mr. Norcross’ interference, among the most egregious was his pressuring of Bill Marimow to purge the Inquirer of opinion on the basis of research conducted by a polling firm with strong ties to his political organization. However, I believe and the recent daily circulation numbers (up by 8.9%) now prove that Bill Marimow is an outstanding editor and leader of The Philadelphia Inquirer. His wrongful termination was the result of his resistance to interference. He stood up for the principle of independent journalism and I fully support him.
Moreover, in the course of his aggressive campaign to seize exclusive control of the company, Mr. Norcross has engaged in a pattern of misrepresentations and distortions. For example, in repeatedly asserting the interests of the “majority” of shareholders, he ignores that the partnership agreement – an agreement that he entered into voluntarily – requires that Mr. Norcross and Mr. Katz agree on all major decisions affecting the company.
Now, how do we move ahead from here?
I believe that the best path to future success is to provide the resources to strengthen our core print products – The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News as well as philly.com. At the same time, it is critically important that we commit ourselves to mastering all the tools of the multimedia world so that our content flows to readers through the iPad, the iPhone and all other devices. Whether people get our news and information in print or online, this is what draws readers. Credible content will attract new readers which in turn attracts new advertisers. To that end, I am committed to finding the best new publisher available – one who can effectively increase our advertising revenue which is now at the bottom of our peers and our circulation online and in print while also supporting the principle of independent journalism.
Under Bob Hall’s failed leadership, we have dropped to last place among the nation’s top newspapers in overall and national advertising. I’m told that our philly.com page views have fallen from a high of 90 million page views per month in 2009-10 to between 50-60 million page views per month now. Clearly, we cannot continue to manage the company with a part-time publisher and a philly.com “president” who is a full-time resident of San Francisco.
I know that yesterday you received a communication from George Norcross. The misstatements in that email are too numerous to mention here but let me suggest to you that in my experience, if someone does not tell you the truth on small things then how can you trust him to tell you the truth on the big issues?
Finally, I ask you to look around and consider whether you think things are getting better given all the claims in Mr. Norcross’ email. If not, I hope that you will share your ideas with me on how we can improve this company. As a person who has chaired and invested in many of our successful civic institutions in Philadelphia, I look forward to working with you to do the same for these great Philadelphia newspapers and Philly.com.
Enough is enough. It is time to reshape the future of this company in a way that respects independent journalism, promotes the excellence of our newspapers and philly.com and advertising revenue and is supported by owners who live up to their pledge of non-interference.
I look forward to hearing from you. You can contact me at email@example.com
Thank you very much.
H. F. Gerry Lenfest
To: IGM employees
From: Lewis Katz
It’s time to tell the truth.
Over the past few weeks I have remained relatively quiet in the hope that our current management impasse would get resolved and that Bill Marimow would be restored as editor. But I cannot remain silent any more.
Let me first tell you why I entered into this partnership. I believe in strong, independent journalism, and I trusted that my partners did as well. Now, after just 19 months of ownership, I understand that not all of the partners entered into this agreement with the same motives.
I believe in an independent and free press, and that’s why I filed the current lawsuit to defend that freedom and to protect my right to participate in the management of the company, including the right to approve the hiring and firing of The Inquirer’s editor.
I also want to explain to you how our partnership agreement is structured, how my right to participate in the management of the company has been violated, and what I am trying to accomplish in court because there have been numerous misrepresentations. No one owner of the company has a majority share. In fact, the stock ownership is more or less irrelevant to the company’s governance.
George Norcross and I are the sole members of a two-person management committee and our agreement is structured so that both members of that committee must agree for action to be taken on all business and operational decisions. I entered into this agreement to be a co-manager of the company. Over the past 19 months, however, I have been elbowed out of its management and now Mr. Norcross is using company resources to hire lawyers to fight against me. I am simply asking the court to restore my rights to co-manage the company as our management agreement stipulates.
Saying that Mr. Hall had the authority to fire Mr. Marimow without consulting with the two of us is simply ridiculous. Mr. Hall knew my position on this subject and promised that he would give me advance notice before any action was to be taken. He fired Mr. Marimow early on the morning of Monday, Oct. 7 without notice to Gerry Lenfest or me.
Now, let me tell you how the business is really doing. As you know, advertising and circulation are the fuel of our business. We need both to be performing strongly if we are to be successful. No doubt, you saw last week’s circulation report, which stated that The Inquirer’s daily circulation was up by 8.9%. This is a major turnaround and one that I credit directly to Mr. Marimow and The Inquirer staff.
The advertising story is very grim and must change. We are currently ranked dead last among top U.S. newspapers in terms of overall and national advertising revenue. In fact, in a recent memo of corrective action by Mr. Hall, he pointedly omitted any reference to advertising sales for obvious reasons. There is no way to sugarcoat it. We must sell more advertising. I believe that a new, strong and experienced publisher can turn this situation around, particularly in light of our recent positive circulation increase. We must capitalize on this opportunity now.
Another important measure of success is philly.com page views and our digital strategy. Unfortunately, you have not gotten the full truth on this one either. In addition to a part-time publisher, we also have a part-time president of philly.com who is not an employee of the company. Our philly.com “president” is a consultant and a full-time resident of San Francisco, and our page views have fallen from 90 million per month in 2009-10 to 50 to 60 million per month today. Clearly, philly.comneeds a full-time president who works in Philadelphia.
I believe that the current strategy of giving away Inquirer and Daily News content on philly.com undermines and cannibalizes the two newspapers’ paywall-protected sites. Who wants to pay for content that they can get for free onphilly.com? I also believe that readers come to philly.com for news and information primarily and that we need to be investing more in news content than in pure entertainment.
My management philosophy has always been to hire great people and let them do their jobs. I note with sadness the recent resignation letter of Mike Lorenca, which speaks to the lack of his ability to do his job independent of interference. When the facts come out, you will see who in fact interfered with his ability to do his job.
I would be remiss if I also didn’t comment on the scurrilous charges leveled against Mr. Lenfest yesterday. It is unfathomable that a man of his stature who has given away a billion dollars to philanthropic institutions would be accused of fabricating a story for his own self-interest. I sincerely regret that this legal battle has devolved into these tactics.
I have enormous respect for each of you and the job that you do every day. I am relying on the court to restore my right to co-manage the company so that Mr. Marimow can return as editor and we can find a dynamic new publisher who can lead the company into the future – a future characterized by independent journalism, growing advertising revenue and continued increases in readership, online and in print.
From: Block, Mark
To: All IGM Employees; All Philly.com Employees
Subject: F.Y.I. Message from George E. Norcross, III & William P. Hankowsky
To All IGM Employees:
Over the past few weeks you’ve been reading a good deal about what has
been going on with the ownership of the paper. Let us take a few
minutes and give you our take.
In fiscal year 2000, Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. (PNI) was a business
that grossed $604 million. We’re not telling you any secret. At that
point the company was owned by Knight Ridder and you can look up the
figure. In 2012 this company grossed a little more than $220 million.
You can do the math as well as we can but that is a drop of almost 2/3
A little more than ten years ago this company had over 3,700 full time
employees. Today that number is approximately 1,700.
And more than ten years ago, 1,050,000 Sunday Inquirers were sold each
week. The Inquirer daily circulation was over 500,000. And the Daily
News was selling 200,000 copies per day. You’re probably even more
aware of what the numbers are at this moment – a devastating drop in
each of these three editions.
When our group bought the papers and the website, the first question
we asked when we saw all these numbers was … why? Certainly if you
own a business or if you are an employee of a business, or – in the
case of public companies – a shareholder of a business, and the
revenue of that business dropped every year for 13 straight years
(with one exception) you would be very curious and would be anxious to
find out the answers.
We know many of these answers … newspaper readership around the
country is declining, people are getting their information from other
sources, etc. But that still left the question about why people in the
Delaware Valley were not purchasing the Daily News and Inquirer with
the same frequency they used to even though philly.com was growing
We suggested to our co-owners and the senior management of the papers
that we undertake some significant market studies to try to find out
some answers about our situation here. Over the past year and half
we’ve done that. We’ve surveyed thousands of people in the Delaware
Valley and we’ve conducted scores of focus groups.
And while there’s no magic bullet in what the survey results and the
focus groups showed, one thing clearly came through: what people want
from the Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer and
philly.com is an emphasis on coverage of local news. Of course that
doesn’t mean that you completely exclude national and international
coverage from the papers. But, unfortunately, many people we surveyed
are turning to other outlets, a problem journalism outlets across the
country face. For those whose emphasis is business, they’re buying The
Wall Street Journal. For those who want international coverage,
they’re buying The New York Times. But if you want local coverage of
Philadelphia and the suburbs on both sides of the Delaware River you
turn to us.
The research was pretty conclusive – both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Unfortunately, we’ve lost some readers to publications outside the
Delaware Valley. Stand at a Wawa on a Sunday in Lower Merion, Abington
or Ocean City, and watch people come out with just the Sunday New York
Times… not the Times and the Inquirer. We have also lost a lot of
readers to the local papers in the region. The Delaware County Daily
Times covers high school sports in that county in a much more in-depth
way than we can. The same holds for lots of other areas around Philly.
And even though the circulation of those papers has decreased, you can
stand at a Wawa in Cherry Hill or Media and watch people walk out with
the Camden Courier Post or Daily Times on a Sunday but without an
Inquirer. (In a great profile of Donald Graham in the New Yorker a
number of years ago, he said whenever a local beats a metro, it’s very
hard for the metro to get the readers back.)
What’s happened among the owners is that some of us have pushed for
change to try and do something to stop the bleeding in advertising,
circulation and revenue because the business model is not sustainable.
These might be cold numbers on a ledger sheet: $604 million gross
revenue in 2000. $510 million gross revenue in 2003. $443 million
gross revenue in 2007. $291 million gross revenue in 2010. $220
million gross revenue last year. What those numbers mean is that
people have lost their jobs. Not just in the newsroom, but people who
deliver and print the papers, administrative staff, and people who answer
That’s the tragedy of this Philadelphia business. It’s the loss of
jobs – both white collar and blue collar. Some have discussed the
papers and philly.com as part of a “public trust”. We agree. But it
is also a business and must be thought of as one or else it will go
out of business as it was in danger of doing before we purchased it.
So our fight is this. Let’s try something different. Let’s try to make
some changes. Let’s see if any changes work and we can stop the
revenue decline and job losses here at this company. Let’s figure out
a way to have more people buy the Inquirer every day and on Sundays,
buy the Daily News every day, advertise in both papers, monetize the
websites and advertise on the websites.
That’s all we’re trying to do.
W’e’re not trying to interfere with the journalism in the newsroom. We
still believe the Daily News and Inquirer can win Pulitzer Prizes in
the future covering Harrisburg and City Hall and Atlantic City and the
County Courthouses and everything in between. There’s plenty of stuff
going on here for great journalists to continue doing what you’ve been
doing and producing great journalism.
But it won’t matter if this company keeps losing revenue because that
means we lose jobs.
That’s the nature of this dispute among the owners.
Let us also make this clear: we respect Lew Katz and Gerry Lenfest,
but we have very different ideas of how best to ensure the company’s
survival going forward and what it will take.
We don’t want to interfere with the newsroom. We made that pledge
along with the other owners when we bought the papers. We have one
main job which the majority owners have tried to focus on – to improve
the operations of the company and increase revenue, including bringing
advertising into this company. And we have made a pretty good start.
The great thing about our situation right now is that we don’t have a
$500 million bank loan we have to pay back and some banker breathing
down our necks every month for their payment. We don’t have hedge
fund people screaming at us because they want their 20 percent return.
We have local investors who are willing to continue to grow the paper
without having to worry about some monthly bill that has to be paid.
But not withstanding that, we can’t keep going down the same path.
Thanks for hearing us out.
We have provided our responses below to frequently asked questions.
George E. Norcross, III & William P. Hankowsky
Frequently Asked Questions About Interstate General Media, the
Inquirer, the Daily News, and philly.com
Q. What is the status of Interstate General Media and the journalism
outlets it owns?
A. After more than a decade of turmoil, Interstate General Media, the
new owner of the Inquirer, the Daily News, and philly.com, has put the
company on the path to profitability. When IGM purchased the three
journalism outlets in early 2012, the company was losing almost
$50,000 a day, every day. While many were asked to make sacrifices in
recent years, the improving condition of the company could not have
been achieved without those sacrifices and the hard work, commitment
and talent of the employees of the company. But we all must recognize
there is more work to done as the company continues to transition to
the new age of print and digital media, a process that will take the
ongoing commitment, hard work and talent of staff and leadership.
Q. How is/are the Inquirer/Daily News/philly.com doing?
A. The combined reach of the three entities continues to far outpace
other media properties in the region and market research reveals they
do not compete for readership. Together, the Inquirer, the Daily News
and philly.com reach an average of 1.95 million readers each week,
more than double the next closest media property. The Inquirer is the
largest newspaper – by far – in the region, with the Daily News at
While print publications continue to struggle everywhere, we have
focused on rebuilding single issues sales for both papers and believe
we have turned a corner, with subscriber and readership loss leveling
off. Since substantial changes were made at the end of last year, home
delivery revenue has been increasing in a fairly substantial way. We
are investing resources and believe we have the appropriate leadership
to do what needs to be done: guaranteed delivery every day, on time,
Unfortunately, as other print publications have seen, the marketplace
continues to decline for advertising for the papers. We’ve rebuilt
the entire advertising apparatus and recruited new leadership and
talent. It’s been a difficult process, but we are beginning to see
positive results, obtaining and growing in some case new or expanded
contracts with, among others Comcast, Independence Blue Cross and
We also recognize that how people consume news continues to change.
The new websites for the Inquirer and Daily News are finding an
audience and an amazing 105,000 of our 270,000 daily subscribers are
enrolled and receive daily via email the Inquirer or Daily News. That
is a huge percentage enrollment in less than a year.
And philly.com is and will remain the largest – by far – media website
in the region and continues to see massive growth of unique users, up
over a million in just the last two years (from 2.6 million in 2011,
to as many as 4.1 million visitors monthly in 2013 according to
ComScore). The website is one of the 10 largest newspaper affiliated
websites in the country.
Q. What changes or improvements are responsible for the turn-around of
the company, and what will be done going forward?
A. In addition to the ongoing improvements listed above – the focus on
single issue sales and home delivery, with a rebuilt advertising
apparatus – we have implemented a disciplined pricing model that
values the journalism our company produces. In essence, if you want
to buy the Inquirer or the Daily News, you are going to pay a fair
Before we purchased the papers and philly.com, the company was giving
away, for in some cases, pennies, or a dollar a week, our
publications. That is a foolish strategy that devalues our journalism.
A year ago we implemented a pricing structure that was based on full
price for our product with a modest offer of 50 percent off for 8
weeks. That has, of course, caused some subscribers to leave because
they didn’t want to pay for the journalism we produce. Overall, it
has been met with little resistance.
The desire – or more accurately, the need – to properly value our
journalism is a key reason why we established paywalls for the two
papers. As mentioned above, the two sites are finding an audience and
we will continue to work to build them.
Finally, and not to diminish its importance, the redesign and
re-launch of the Inquirer, along with a new advertising campaign “More
You”, has been met with strongly positive impressions by our readers
and advertisers. Although it took too long, it is something of which
we are all very proud.
Q. What does the improving condition of the company mean for readers
and IGM staff?
A. For readers, it means a continued focus on the local coverage they
need and want as well as improved customer service and delivery. For
our employees, there are numerous ways they will benefit, beginning
with a better work environment when the company reaches profitability.
We have already invested millions of dollars in capital investments
at the production plant and the company’s new headquarters at 801
Market Street. As soon as feasible, we anticipate that the Inquirer,
Daily News and philly.com will, for the first time in years, add – not
replace, but add – reporters in the field specifically focused on
Q. In the last month, there have been two lawsuits filed by the owners
of IGM against each the company and each other. What are those
A. As you know, on October 7, 2013, Publisher Bob Hall removed Bill
Marimow as editor-in-chief of the Inquirer. The decision to remove
Mr. Marimow was one made by Mr. Hall and Mike Lorenca, the Associate
Publisher, after months of discussion with Mr. Marimow and the
ownership of the company about the direction of the paper. The
publisher has traditionally had the ability to remove an editor,
something Mr. Marimow publicly recognized when he was removed by a
previous publisher at the Inquirer and one at the Baltimore Sun.
That same week, two of the minority shareholders, Lewis Katz and Gerry
Lenfest, filed suit against the company and Publisher Hall alleging
that Mr. Marimow’s termination was not allowed under the terms of the
IGM operating agreement. Their suit alleges that Mr. Marimow’s
dismissal required the approval of two members of the Board of
Directors (specifically Managing Members Lewis Katz and George
Norcross). Their suit asks that Mr. Marimow be reinstated and that Mr.
Hall be terminated.
On October 17th, Managing Member George Norcross, through his holding
company, General American Holdings, Inc, filed a complaint in the
Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware against Intertrust GCN, LP
(Lewis Katz’ company) and Mr. Katz. The suit was filed in Delaware
because both IGM and Intertrust GCN are Delaware companies. In his
suit, Mr. Norcross asked the Court for three things:
– “Declare that Katz cannot prevent IGM’s Board from taking the action
necessary to enable IGM respond to the litigation he himself
instigated against it.”
– “… a declaration that under the LLC Agreement controlling IGM’s
governance and management, Hall had every right to terminate Marimow’s
employment and Katz cannot meddle further with that decision.”
– “end all other efforts by Katz both to exercise his rights under the
LLC Agreement to the detriment of IGM while encumbered with an
unavoidable conflict of interest.”
On Thursday, October 31st, Philadelphia Judge McInerney issued a
ruling keeping the jurisdiction of the case in Philadelphia.
Bill Ross, the Guild president, has offered to mediate any
negotiations if both sides are willing. All cases are pending.
Q. Didn’t the owners pledge to not interfere in the journalistic and
editorial operations of the paper(s)/philly.com?
A. Yes. Shortly before the owners of IGM purchased the papers and
philly.com, more than 200 current and past employees of the three
outlets signed a petition stating that any new owners “must guarantee
that the integrity of our reporting will never be sacrificed….”. The
owners of IGM pledged – publicly, in writing, and in their operating
agreement – to remove themselves from editorial and journalistic
decisions of the company. At its heart, this case will hinge on the
interpretation of the non-interference clause in IGM’s operating
agreement. We believe this language is clear that the owners were to
separate themselves from the journalistic and editorial operations of
the papers and philly.com.
Q. One of the allegations the lawsuit makes is that Bob Hall did not
have the authority to fire Marimow because he does not have a
contract. Does he?
A. Bob Hall is the Publisher and CEO of Interstate General Media, with
all the responsibilities that entails. His name appears on the
masthead of the papers every day, as it has been for more than a year.
All owners have recognized Mr. Hall’s role repeatedly.
Q. Another of the allegations in the Katz lawsuit is that there was
not sufficient notice given to Board members before Marimow was
removed. Is that correct?
A. No. There were emails written to Board members and meetings held
months before Mr. Marimow’s termination that made it clear that
Messrs. Hall, as publisher, and Lorenca, as associate publisher, were
not satisfied with Marimow’s performance and his failure to follow the
path planned for the Inquirer. It has been documented that Mr.
Lenfest told Mr. Marimow that he would be dismissed if he didn’t
follow the Hall/Lorenca plan. The majority owners, who together
control 58 percent of the company and 4 of 6 directorships, have stood
firmly behind the work of both Hall and Lorenca.
Q. Didn’t Katz and Lenfest file a separate injunction against the
company after the Norcross suit?
A. Yes. They sued to get a court injunction prohibiting the company
from moving forward with the investigations into Mr. Katz’ efforts to
influence the journalistic and editorial operations of the papers and
Q. What do these lawsuits mean for the future of the papers/philly.com?
A. The lawsuits are not expected to impact the operations of the
papers and philly.com, although they will, at a minimum, cost the
company hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be put to better
use improving our services and coverage. The majority shareholders of
Interstate General Media are committed to the continued production of
the quality journalism our readers expect and rely on from the
Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com. In fact, the termination of Mr.
Marimow as Inquirer editor, from which the lawsuit resulted, was a
journalistic and editorial decision Publisher Hall and Associate
Publisher Lorenca made in large part in the pursuit of strengthening
the journalism produced by the Inquirer.
Q. There is a great deal concern about whether philly.com is using
content from the Inquirer and Daily News while also competing with
them. How can that be?
A. Upon its purchase, the company began a substantial survey and
planning process to learn more about who our readers are and what they
want. It identified challenges for each entity, but it also revealed
one piece of extremely good news: we discovered that the three
journalistic entities, they appeal to different audiences and do not
materially complete with each other for readership. Their readership
is largely different, and therefore so too can be their focus be
different. Moreover, we have learned that philly.com is a key outlet
for re-engaging readers who left reading our papers years ago.
It is true that in addition to material from its own news gathering
division and partners across the Internet, philly.com publishes
content from the Inquirer and Daily News. As organizations under the
same parent company – IGM — the newspapers and philly.com have long
been able to utilize content from one another. Just like philly.com
will use content from the newspapers, there are occasions that the
Daily News or Inquirer will utilize something that may have first
views are either from their own original content or non-Inquirer/Daily
News partner content.
Q. One of the issues that Katz and Marimow supporters raise is the
involvement of Lexie Norcross, the daughter of George Norcross, in the
operation of Philly.com. What is her role there?
A. The leader of philly.com and digital strategy is Robert Cauthorn.
Currently the position of editor in chief is open, and the company
needs to hire one.
Lexie Norcross serves as a VP of Digital Operations and Corporate
Services. She does not control the editorial decisions of the
In Lexie’s role as VP of Digital Operations and Corporate Services,
she not only works with the executive staff of IGM, but serves as the
liaison between advertising and the product and content groups, making
sure the correct people are looped in as we implement ad positions or
develop proposals for new advertisers. She is a coordinator of large
digital advertising pitches and/or sponsored content (i.e. the Shore
guide) to make sure the people and departments with responsibility of
each piece are moving along on schedule and that any collateral
elements are in place. Lexie has daily oversight of the budget and is
responsible for keeping tabs on the expense budget. As most know,
Lexie coordinated the entire move from Broad Street to 801 Market
Street and continues to be involved with corporate services, which
includes the management of the facilities at 801 Market Street.