PHILADELPHIA — The editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer has stepped down on the eve of a bankruptcy court's $139 million sale of the newspaper company to creditors.
Editor William Marimow will remain at the Inquirer as an investigative reporter, said columnist Monica Yant Kinney, who spoke with him after Thursday's announcement.
The incoming owners of the Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News have pledged to cut the number of managers at the two papers from 46 to 40 within days as part of a planned 13 percent across-the-board budget cut.
The new owners include about 30 banks and hedge funds, including Angelo, Gordon & Co., which now owns stakes in several U.S. newspaper companies.
Chief Operating Officer Bob Hall confirmed that staff changes were looming Thursday, but declined to provide details. Neither he nor Publisher Greg Osberg immediately returned messages later in the day.
Deputy Managing Editor Stan Wischnowski has been named to succeed Marimow on an interim basis, Yant Kinney told The Associated Press.
Outgoing Publisher Brian Tierney hired Marimow for the top spot after he and other investors bought the company in 2006. Despite a bitter 20-month bankruptcy court fight between Tierney and the company's creditors, Marimow's departure surprised many newsroom employees.
"Everybody expected that they would have to make tough choices about other people, but not Bill," Yant Kinney said. "(It's been) a tumultuous time, and he was really a rock for the staff at a time when we needed it."
Marimow earlier worked at the Inquirer for 21 years and helped the paper win two Pulitzer Prizes: one for investigative reporting on attacks by city police dogs and one for public service reporting on police abuses of power.
He later served as editor of The Baltimore Sun and as NPR's ombudsman.
Marimow did not immediately return a call for comment late Thursday.
The creditor group won a bankruptcy court auction for the company last month with a bid valued at $139 million, including $105 million cash and the papers' iconic building. They plan to beef up online news operations at the company's Philly.com website.
The Tierney group, which paid $515 million for the company, filed for bankruptcy in February 2009.