William K. Marimow, the editor of The Inquirer, is being replaced by the paper's new owner but will remain on the staff as a reporter, it was announced Thursday.
The company's new management told Marimow that despite his national reputation as an outstanding print journalist, he did not have the background in digital media necessary to lead the paper going forward.
Marimow, 63, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, will continue at The Inquirer as an investigative reporter.
Stan Wischnowski, The Inquirer's deputy managing editor/operations and vice president for shared services, was named acting editor. He will be among the candidates to fill the open position, said Gregory J. Osberg, chief executive officer for Philadelphia Media Network Inc., the new owner of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the website Philly.com.
The demotion of Marimow and appointment of Wischnowski came as Philadelphia Media Network prepared to finally take control of the local media company.
Philadelphia Media Network, owned by 32 financial institutions, purchased the papers and website at auction Sept. 23. The new company emerges from a 20-month bankruptcy Friday.
Osberg said there were other executive-level dismissals Thursday. They included Richard Thayer, executive vice president for finance, and Scott Baker, general counsel.
Additional management changes could be announced as early as Friday.
Osberg was effusive in his praise of Marimow, who won his Pulitzers in 1977 and 1985 as an Inquirer reporter and has led the paper since 2006.
"Bill has improved The Inquirer dramatically," Osberg said. "We are now one of the strongest metropolitan papers in the country. I appreciate everything he has contributed to the organization, and I am excited he will continue as one of our leading investigative reporters."
Osberg said he had a "deep commitment" to investigative reporting at The Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com.
He said he also was committed to improving and expanding Philly.com, and introducing new online products. He said he wanted The Inquirer newsroom directed by someone experienced in digital media.
"As we exit bankruptcy after 20 months, the company needs to accelerate its integration of its various brands and platforms," Osberg said in an interview. "I want to create an editorial structure that will ensure that success."
Marimow declined to discuss his conversations with Osberg about his demotion. He did speak with pride of his time as editor and the paper's performance under his leadership.
"Being the editor of my hometown paper has been a pleasure and a privilege," said Marimow, the son of a Havertown bicycle-store owner. "By any objective measures, the newspaper, in print and online, has real momentum in terms of journalistic excellence. Every section of the paper, from features to sports to the metropolitan section, has really glittered in recent months."
Marimow is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and a member of its board of trustees. He began his newspaper career at the Evening Bulletin before joining The Inquirer in 1972. He won his Pulitzers for his investigations of abuses by Philadelphia police.
Marimow was also the lead reporter for the paper's coverage of the 1985 bombing of the MOVE house in West Philadelphia. He later served as city editor and as assistant to publisher Robert J. Hall, who is serving as chief operating officer for Philadelphia Media Network.
In 1993, Marimow joined the Baltimore Sun as metropolitan editor. He rose to managing editor and then editor of the Sun, which won three Pulitzers under his leadership. He was fired in 2004 after a dispute with his publisher.
Marimow went to work in Washington for NPR as managing editor for news, and later served as vice president of news and the radio network's ombudsman before being hired as editor of The Inquirer by new publisher and company chief executive officer Brian P. Tierney.
Marimow was philosophical about his reversal of fortune Thursday.
"Grappling with adversity is the only way you grow," he said.
Wischnowski, a 25-year newspaper veteran, has been at The Inquirer since 2000. He had worked at several metropolitan papers as a high-ranking editor, including deputy managing editor/news and acting managing editor at the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle and Sunday copy desk chief at the Detroit News.
As a deputy managing editor at The Inquirer, Wischnowski oversees the selection of stories for the front page. He also manages the newsroom budget, and recently represented management for The Inquirer and the Daily News at contract negotiations with the Newspaper Guild, which represents newsroom and advertising employees at the company.
Wischnowski, 48, is a native of Kankakee, Ill., and a graduate of Western Illinois University.
"In the short time I've been working with Stan, I've been impressed," Osberg said. "I believe his creativity and collaborative style will be a tremendous asset going forward."