Tierney cites his hiring of Marimow, who is well respected in the newsroom, as one of his greatest coups. Marimow has embraced the new mission of excellence in local and regional coverage, putting the Inquirer’s (waning) old ambitions aside. The paper’s sole remaining foreign correspondent, Ned Warwick, was summoned home after just a few months in Jerusalem and is now the Pennsylvania editor. The Inquirer’s onetime Africa correspondent, Andrew Maykuth, and its former national political reporter, Larry Eichel, were assigned to a stellar team covering Philadelphia’s hotly contested Democratic mayoral primary.

Marimow and Tierney also recruited Vernon Loeb, the Los Angeles Times’s investigations editor and a former Inquirer foreign correspondent, as metropolitan editor. Tierney called Loeb’s wife to clinch the deal. Loeb says he had come to believe that “those guys running the Tribune Company were the least innovative bunch I’d ever seen—the same as Knight Ridder. They had one move: diminish the product.” Tierney, by contrast, seemed to embody “all the entrepreneurial qualities that Tribune seems to lack.”

In May, Tierney, in another promotional masterstroke, announced that the Inquirer would sponsor a Sudoku National Championship in October, with the New York Times crossword puzzle guru, Will Shortz, as host. A year from now, he says, his “fervent hope” is to be able to hire more journalists and perhaps even to bring back the Inquirer’s once-admired, but costly, Sunday magazine. “It would make a lot of people feel good about me,” he says.

Meanwhile, Loeb says he told his wife, “If I go to Philadelphia and the place goes out of business in a year, just say what soldiers’ wives say: ‘He died doing what he loved.’ That’s the way I feel about it. If we can’t make it here, with Bill Marimow running the newsroom and Brian Tierney running the business side of the paper, God help this industry.” 


Julia M. Klein is a cultural reporter and critic in Philadelphia and a CJR contributing editor.