An Interview with Jim Jenks

An Interview with Jim Jenks

An Interview with Jim Jenks

“We’re in this world right now where the NFL doesn’t want to give newspaper people video access because they’re saving that for themselves…We understand we can’t shoot game action, but our problem is that we can’t shoot Andy Reid in a post-game news conference. TV does that – why can’t newspapers?

“The hard part has just been trying to convince people that there’s more to do – breaking down those old walls of “this is how it’s always been”. We need to integrate the web and mobile into daily tasks. In a union atmosphere change like that does not come easy…”

“We’ll talk about opening up relations between sports editors and advertising departments…Can we challenge the rule of church and state to get more money in here but yet not destroy that wall? Can we get people to think about it on both sides of the fence?”

“No matter what talk radio does they still get their information from newspapers every day. Talk radio hosts aren’t in the lockerroom every day. It’s still the papers that break most of the news stories – that’s what we have to protect.”

Jim Jenks: Interviewed on November 7, 2006

Position: Executive Sports Editor, Philadelphia Inquirer

Born: 1961, San Antonio, Texas

Education: Western New England College

Career: Springfield Morning Union 1979-83, Lakeland Ledger 83-84, Fayetteville Times 84-85, Odessa American 85, Tampa Tribune 85-88, Hartford Courant 88-90, Newsday 91-94, Santa Rosa Press Democrat 94-96, Starwave Corp. (nascar.com, nfl.com, ESPN.com) 97-00, ESPN TV 00-03, Philadelphia Inquirer 03 –

Personal: married, four children

Favorite restaurant (home): Gus’s Lunch Truck, “He’s an institution here – great chicken salad”

Favorite restaurant (road): Metropolitan Grill, Seattle, “service is impeccable and the food is great”

Favorite hotel: Bellevue Club, Bellevue, Wash.

Professional Organizations: President, Associated Press Sports Editors

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, November 9, 2006:

The Inquirer’s new editor, Bill Marimow, returned to an enthusiastic welcome today in the newsroom where he had won two Pulitzer Prizes decades ago.

He will replace Amanda Bennett, who stepped down by “mutual” agreement with new publisher Brian Tierney.

With the paper facing a costly fall in national advertising and tough union contract talks with a Nov. 30 deadline, Marimow warned of “painful” staff cuts and narrower horizons at a paper that once prided itself on national and foreign coverage, as well as in-depth local reporting.

“We have to figure out how to thrive in an era of reduced resources,” Marimow told reporters and editors crowding the paper’s Broad Street newsroom and an overhanging balcony, as he stood beside Tierney and Bennett.

Tierney has said that as many as 150 of the 415 Inquirer newsroom jobs could be cut, though “it doesn’t have to be that bad” if he gets savings from new union contracts, changes to vendor contracts, and more flexible work rules for advertising salespeople.

Q. You’re under new ownership – what has changed?

A. Nothing really has changed yet. We are in the midst of collective bargaining negotiations and that is the new ownership’s priority – before they can do anything else.

Q. Are you looking at layoffs in your department?

A. The new owner – Brian Tierney – has said the paper is looking at potential layoffs. So, yes, we are.

Q. Is there tension?

A. It doesn’t feel like tension – there’s definitely anxiety. But it’s not toward me as management – it very much feels like we’re all in this together, at least from my perspective. I spent much of my weekend fielding phone calls from the staff. They were asking, “Where are we at?” I didn’t feel any tension toward me. I felt a lot of anxiety of the “what does it mean” sort.

Exempt people could be involved in layoffs too. I don’t know that I’m safe.

Q. How important is sports coverage to the Inquirer’s survival?

A. The Philadelphia market is possessed about its sports team so you would figure it would play a very prominent role.

The Eagles are far and above the most popular team in this market judging by local TV ratings. The success of the Eagles and ours go hand in hand. There is an old NASCAR adage, “Win on Sunday – Sell on Monday”. That works in this market.

Q. The Eagles’ success – isn’t that a tenuous lifeline for the Inquirer?

A. Yes. When you talk about newspapers in general “tenuous” is a good word. Circulation has increasingly gone down – so have ad revenues. So, yes, it’s not the only thing we have to count on – we do have to count on ourselves to sell more ads and find new ways to present journalism, and to find new distribution points. A lot of papers are going through this now. Everybody has basically fooled around with the web for 10 years and nobody has a helluva lot to show for it.

Q. What is the Inquirer doing to increase revenues?

A. One thing we’ve done here – and hope it catches on – is mobile service. We’re serving our news out on wireless PDAs and cellphones – pushing it out through a WAP site or an SMS text messaging service. It allows you to charge for content, unlike the web – we gave it away for free and can’t figure out how to get it back.

Our mobile service is in its infancy but that’s where we’re going. Kids were not a targeted audience in the past but they will be now – from high school on up. They do a lot of stuff through their cellphones – we need to be an information provider through their phones. We need to get back what we had when papers were dominant.

Q. Didn’t ESPN have a bad experience with a mobile news service?

A. Yes. Theirs was a business decision to provide hardware and software. We have a third party relationship with Cingular and Verizon and other service providers. ESPN tried to do the hardware – but how many people with good service are going to switch over to a whole other phone and service provider? With ours you don’t have to worry about that – we push our information to your service provider.

Q. Is anybody else doing this?

A. Not in the way we are. Look at USA Today, Washington Post and New York Times – you’ve seen their commercials – they say “text us and we’ll give you information”. It’s a two-transaction process. With ours we push you the sports news we think you need to know. For Eagles games we push you the scores as they happen. We give you signings, trades and other scores. Anything else gets put up on the WAP site – a wireless device website you can go to at your leisure.

Q. Cost?

A. It’s $2.99 a month for non-subscribers and 99 cents for subscribers.

Q. What issues are in front of APSE (Associated Press Sports Editors)?

A. We’re in this world right now where the NFL doesn’t want to give newspaper people video access because they’re saving that for themselves. They see it (video) as a money-maker and we see it as a money-maker. As we figure out our distribution points we see it as a necessity. I wrote a letter this morning – as president of the APSE – to (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell to request a meeting on ways we can work together on this.

Q. What are your APSE members saying about access problems?

A. It’s mixed all over the place. Some teams are more aggressive – it’s inconsistent across the board. We’re trying to help some papers and get some definitive answers. We’re concerned that as the NFL Network and nfl.com get more involved there will be less access for us. This is mostly about video – audio isn’t a problem. We understand we can’t shoot game action, but our problem is that we can’t shoot Andy Reid in a post-game news conference. TV does that – why can’t newspapers? We haven’t gotten a definitive answer. We know the answer – they want it exclusively for their website – but they have not said that.

Q. What other concerns are you hearing from sports editors?

A. Figuring out how to make money – not for APSE as an entity but for individual newspapers. My APSE legacy project is how to make the sports department a better revenue producer. I get tired of doing great special sections – which should be filled with advertising – but are filled with none. But look at some of the southern papers – they’re filled with advertising and having great success.

I’m talking with the Newspaper Association of America – which is independent of any chain – I’m working with it to prepare a presentation for the APSE regional meetings. The idea is to reach out and touch people – show them different ad strategies and sponsorship strategies. We’ll talk about opening up relations between sports editors and advertising departments – we find that a lot of sports editors don’t talk to the ad folks. How is the message being communicated? Can we challenge the rule of church and state to get more money in here but yet not destroy that wall? Can we get people to think about it on both sides of the fence?

Q. Why is the Washington Post said to have the best newspaper website?

A. They do a good job of cross promoting – Page 2 tells you what they’re doing on the website. They’re trying to do video – to appeal to all the senses that you can on the web and that you can’t in the newspaper. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also has a good one.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has put its Packers content behind a firewall. That’s something we could look at – people might pay for it on the Eagles.

This is where Knight-Ridder made a fatal mistake. It had all these great markets and it went out on the cheap and created a single (web) template for all of them – they all looked the same. You can’t do that. The web is about nuance. Collectively we all just blew it.

Q. As a sports editor what are your toughest coverage decisions?

A. I wouldn’t call coverage decisions tough – it still comes down to balance as our space shrinks and the paper gets smaller. Our four major pro sports have been maintained. The high schools have been cut a little but generally have been maintained.

Colleges probably have taken the biggest hit in my time here. But it’s not so much a coverage decision – we’re going to cover what we said we’re going to cover – it’s how much you get in the paper. We haven’t given up on anything – we’ve just scaled back the amount of coverage. We used to cover St. Joe’s, Temple and Villanova home and road. Last year we covered just Villanova home and road and we would look to get a stringer for Temple on the road, even though it was John Chaney’s last year and we had to keep an eye on it. St. Joe’s we relied on wires for the road and covered them at home.

Q. Your toughest personnel decisions?

A. Not too many – I haven’t had that many hires. The hard part has just been trying to convince people that there’s more to do – breaking down those old walls of “this is how it’s always been”. We need to integrate the web and mobile into daily tasks. In a union atmosphere change like that does not come easy and it’s almost done on a person-by-person and case-by-case basis. We’ve got to get a handle on integrating all these new distribution outlets and new responsibilities, such as gathering audio, which reporters had never done before.

Q. How do your reporters feel about gathering audio?

A. You’ve got to find people who will do it and put them in the right spot. We have not forced anybody to do anything they’re not comfortable with outside of the union contract.

Our Eagles beat reporter – Marc Narducci – is the primary one. He carries a digital tape recorder and microphone. He’s got software on his computer that enables him to edit it and send it to the website – where they post it.

This is what we have to do to survive – it’s a new business.

Q. Does this alter the relationship between the beat reporter and the Eagles?

A. I don’t think so. As a reporter you put the mike in front of them anyway – all you’re doing is cutting that into sound bites – but they’re not seeing that. To the team the reporter is doing nothing he wasn’t doing before. They’re used to seeing newspaper and TV people carrying recorders. Correspondents from Phillies.com and Eagles.com do it as well.

Q. Does nfl.com do journalism?

A. They won’t break the negative. They won’t tell you Donovan McNabb had a below-average game. There was a time they wouldn’t even call a backup quarterback a “backup” – they didn’t want “backup” in there because it meant he was behind somebody and it could be looked at as a negative. That’s some of the stuff I went through when we launched nfl.com 10 years ago. Look at Eagles.com – it doesn’t get into salary negotiations. There’s nothing about holdouts. Real fans understand that – that’s why their web traffic is not near (the Inquirer’s) Philly.com. On game day it might be – fans will go to nfl.com so they can see the play-by-play.

They are doing journalism. I say that, having served on that side. But they’re only doing positive journalism – they’re not going to break a negative story. They are doing reporting and writing and all the things we’re trying to do with sound and video. It tends to be positive and act more like public relations. Could you tell the difference between them and us when we go out to do a positive story – probably not. Where you tell the difference is what we do in our columns. You’re not going to find too many negative opinions – or stories about criminals – on the team and league websites.

Q. Are your reporters blogging?

A. Not all of them – it loses its impact if you have too many. We have two blogs – Claire Smith on baseball and Marc Narducci on football.

Q. Do you consider the blogosphere your competition?

A. Yes I do. Is it big enough here where I feel it? I blogged awhile to see how it would go and I spent a lot of time on Phillies’ and Eagles fan blogs and hoped it would point people back to us. It was an experiment – an interesting experiment. It’s a neat world. They’re not competitive with one another – they just want to go out and write what they want – if they think something was written well on another blog they point to it. It’s like a large family out there. Are they competition to newspapers? For time? Yes. For information? No.

Blogs never will get the information we get because we’re in the lockerroom. That’s one thing newspapers have going into the future – no matter what talk radio does they still get their information from newspapers every day. Talk radio hosts aren’t in the lockerroom every day. It’s still the papers that break most of the news stories – that’s what we have to protect.

Q. Is talk radio your competition?

A. It’s more complementary and supplementary – I don’t think it’s truly competitive – not on information. In this market ratings for sports talk radio have gone down. It seems very Eagle-centric and one-dimensional – if you’re a fan of the other sports you won’t get your fix here on talk radio.

Q. Could the Phillies – like the Eagles – drive newspaper revenues?

A. Good question. It hasn’t happened. We would like it to happen. They did have a bit of a resurgence – but how much of that was due to Ryan Howard? The team was no better this year than last. Howard’s quest for 60 home runs was as much a national phenomenon as local. There was such an outcry against Bonds and McGwire – people wanted to see somebody clean do it. Then everybody in baseball pitched around him and it didn’t happen.

We’d love to see the Phillies take off. People ask me who I’m a fan of and I have to say nobody because I’m in the business. But I hope they do well because I know more people will buy the paper – success does matter to circulation.

(SMG thanks Jim Jenks for his cooperation)

Bennett steps down as Inquirer editor; Marimow to take over

By Joseph N. DiStefano and Miriam Hill

INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

1151 words

9 November 2006

The Philadelphia Inquirer

English

(c) Copyright 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer. All Rights Reserved.

The Inquirer’s new editor, Bill Marimow, returned to an enthusiastic welcome today in the newsroom where he had won two Pulitzer Prizes decades ago.

He will replace Amanda Bennett, who stepped down by “mutual” agreement with new publisher Brian Tierney.

With the paper facing a costly fall in national advertising and tough union contract talks with a Nov. 30 deadline, Marimow warned of “painful” staff cuts and narrower horizons at a paper that once prided itself on national and foreign coverage, as well as in-depth local reporting.

“We have to figure out how to thrive in an era of reduced resources,” Marimow told reporters and editors crowding the paper’s Broad Street newsroom and an overhanging balcony, as he stood beside Tierney and Bennett.

Tierney has said that as many as 150 of the 415 Inquirer newsroom jobs could be cut, though “it doesn’t have to be that bad” if he gets savings from new union contracts, changes to vendor contracts, and more flexible work rules for advertising salespeople.

“I need some breathing room,” Tierney said. Among other concessions, he wants to freeze pensions for newsroom, advertising and circulation workers. The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, which represents the workers, opposes the freeze.

Marimow, who said he would start the week of Nov. 27, called for “excellent” and “indispensable” competitive journalism – online, audio and print. He promised a “collegial” newsroom. He said Tierney, an advertising professional, would help “figure out how to promote the great material our staff is producing.”

“I need some breathing room,” Tierney said. Among other concessions, he wants to freeze pensions for newsroom, advertising and circulation workers. The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, which represents the workers, opposes the freeze.

Marimow called for “excellent” and “indispensable” competitive journalism – online, audio and print. He promised a “collegial” newsroom. He said Tierney, an advertising professional, would help “figure out how to promote the great material our staff is producing.”

That material will focus on the Philadelphia area, Marimow added. Although that will still include larger stories, he said, “we will no longer be sending battalions of staffers to cover news like Hurricane Katrina and the war in Baghdad.”

Marimow is replacing Amanda Bennett, who had been assigned the job under the paper’s former owner, Knight Ridder Inc., in 2003. Tierney’s group, Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC, bought The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and philly.com for $515 million, the majority of it borrowed, last spring.

Bennett said she will be a visiting fellow at Columbia University in New York. Tierney said the decision for Bennett to step down as editor was “mutual.”

In another shift, editorial page editor Chris Satullo will now report directly to publisher Tierney. He formerly reported to editor Bennett.

Satullo said he welcomed the shift, which he’d recommended to former Inquirer publisher Joe Natoli. He added that Tierney, “so far,” has made less effort to influence editorial page policy than his predecessors.

Tierney is a former Republican Party fund-raiser and organizer, but he has said he would take no part in party politics now that he was in the news business. Tierney also has a personal stake in one of the contentious issues that Satullo’s pages cover: Tierney is an investor in one of the companies that is trying to build a gambling casino in Philadelphia over the objections of neighborhood groups.

Tierney praised Marimow’s “passion for this region.” Marimow, 59, said he “couldn’t be happier” to be back in Philadelphia.

The son of a Havertown bicycle store owner, Marimow graduated from Trinity College and worked at the former Evening Bulletin before joined The Inquirer in 1972. He moved rapidly through a series of beats. He won two Pulitzers for his investigations of abuses by police, one in 1977 in partnership with Jonathan Neumann, now an editor at Bloomberg L.P., and a second in 1985.

Marimow was also lead reporter for the paper’s coverage of the 1986 bombing of the MOVE house in West Philadelphia. He later served as city editor, and as assistant to then-publisher Robert Hall. “I thought the world of him,” said Hall, who has served as a consultant to the paper’s new owners. “He’s a can-do guy, a totally rounded person.”

Marimow was also part of the exodus of veteran Inquirer editors and reporters after the departure of editor Eugene Roberts in 1990. His return is “the best thing that has happened to journalism in Philadelphia in more than a decade,” said James Naughton, a former Inquirer editor who later headed the nonprofit Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla.

In 1993, Marimow joined the Baltimore Sun as metro editor under John Carroll, another Inquirer alumnus. Marimow rose to editor-in-chief of the Sun, which won a string of Pulitzers on his watch. But he was fired after a new publisher took the helm at the Tribune Co.-owned paper in 2004.

He had opposed newsroom job cuts at the Sun. But The Inquirer is in a different situation, according to Marimow, because its profit margin is lower and the new owners, who have borrowed more than $300 million to acquire the paper, need to reduce costs.

After leaving the Sun, Marimow joined National Public Radio as vice president of news; he became the head of the growing radio service’s news division. But earlier this month he surprised staffers by taking a lesser job as the radio service’s ombudsman, fielding complaints from readers instead of leading reporters.

Marimow said he wrote Tierney a letter last summer after viewing the Philadelphia-centered movie Invincible, and discussions progressed from that first contact.

“I welcome Bill back to Philadelphia,” said Inquirer reporter Henry Holcomb, president of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, which represents advertising, newsroom and circulation workers. “He’s got the talent we need and the courage to fight for the resources the times require.”

Bennett joined the Inquirer in June 2003, four months before Hall left and two years before Knight Ridder Inc. decided to put The Inquirer and its 31 other daily newspapers up for sale. “We have been through one hell of a ride,” Bennett told reporters, praising their “passion and journalistic integrity.”

Bennett got high marks from former Inquirer publisher Joe Natoli, her boss for most of her Inquirer tenure. “Amanda led The Inquirer newsroom with integrity and grace during a difficult time in its history,” said Natoli, who is now an executive at the University of Miami. “She stayed positive in the face of adversity and always tried to do the right thing for the newspaper and the community that it served.”

Bennett was the paper’s first female editor. Bennett had previously served as editor of Knight Ridder Inc.’s Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and as projects editor of the Oregonian newspaper, where she directed reporting that won a Pulitzer Prize. For more than 20 years, she was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, where she covered the auto industry, the Pentagon, China, and other key beats, and served as Atlanta bureau chief.

Contact staff writer Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5957 or jdistefano@phillynews.com
.

he Inquirer today introduces its new mobile service, delivering sports information directly to your cellular phone.

Inquirer Sports Extra will feature breaking news on your favorite Philadelphia teams, as well as Penn State, and score updates for Eagles games.

Subscribers will receive text-message alerts and access to a unique Web site for phones with Internet service.

The service is available on all major wireless carriers, including Verizon, Cingular, Sprint-Nextel, and T-Mobile. (Some carriers may charge extra for text-messaging service. Check with your provider for details.)

Inquirer Sports Extra will be free to new newspaper subscribers who sign up at http://go.philly.com/mobile
or by calling 800-222-2765. For existing newspaper subscribers, the service will cost 99 cents per month. Non-subscribers will pay $2.99 per month.

Inquirer offers sports on the go

137 words

8 September 2006

The Philadelphia Inquirer

CITY-D

D06

English

(c) Copyright 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer. All Rights Reserved.

The Inquirer yesterday introduced its new mobile service, delivering sports information directly to your cellular phone.

Inquirer Sports Extra features breaking news on your favorite Philadelphia teams, as well as Penn State, and score updates for Eagles games.

Subscribers receive text-message alerts and access to a unique Web site for phones with Internet service.

The service is available on all major wireless carriers, including Verizon, Cingular, Sprint-Nextel, and T-Mobile. (Some carriers may charge extra for text-messaging service. Check with your provider for details.)

Inquirer Sports Extra is free to new newspaper subscribers who sign up at http://go.philly.com/mobile

or by calling 800-222-2765. For existing newspaper subscribers, the service costs 99 cents per month. Non-subscribers will pay $2.99 per month.

1.1 What is Inquirer Sports Mobile?

Inquirer Sports Mobile is an Inquirer news service that transmits text and photos to cellphone users. Some of this content is sent out as “SMS alerts” (customer receives a message) while other content resides on a mobile phone website that users access at their convenience.

Current content areas on the phone website are:

EAGLES

• Stories & Notes

• Injuries

• Breaking News

• Columns

• Scores

PHILLIES

• Breaking news

• Injuries

• Stories & Notes

• Columns

• Scores

SIXERS

• Stories & Notes

• Breaking news

• Injuries

• Columns

• Scores

FLYERS

• Breaking news

• Injuries

• Stories & Notes

• Scores

• Columns

PENN STATE FOOTBALL

• Breaking news

• Injuries

• Stories & Notes

• Scores

• Columns

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