Inky Settles Grievance Over Reporter Reassignments

One of the last remaining battles—for now—has been settled between the company that owns Philly’s two major daily newspapers and the union representing its journalists: Sources say that Interstate General Media and the Newspaper Guild have settled a grievance over last fall’s reassignment of older reporters at the Inquirer to hardship posts in an apparent attempt to force their resignations and shed some of the higher salaries on the reporting staff. (You’ll recall that Howard Shapiro, the Inky’s longtime theater critic, took a buyout after being reassigned to cover South Jersey.) Interstate General said at the time that the moves were designed to bolster the paper’s coverage of South Jersey and the Philly suburbs.

Bill Ross, executive director of the Guild, declined to offer specifics. “Settlements are confidential, but I can say we reached a fair settlement for both sides that resolved the grievance over the reassignments,” he told me this morning via e-mail.

The settlement comes two months after the Guild ratified a new contract with Interstate General, negotiations that involved the company’s threat to “liquidate” the newspapers, and in which reporter seniority was a point of contention. There’s never a dull moment in the newspaper industry, to be sure, but the news raises the question: Is an era of relative peace at hand for the Inky and Daily News?