Magazine article American Journalism Review

City of Changes

Magazine article American Journalism Review

City of Changes

Article excerpt

After telling staffers that he'd be around until 2006, when the next labor contract was due, Robert J. Hall called a reverse: The 58-year-old publisher and chairman of Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., which publishes the Inquirer and Daily News, will retire at the end of the year. Joe Natoli will step in as Hall's successor, leaving his job as president and publisher of the San Jose Mercury News. Both papers are owned by Knight Ridder.

Hall says nothing in particular sparked his change of mind. "My wife, Ronna, and I kept talking, talking, talking," he says, and decided "this is a good time."

The move comes after a number of top changes at PNI, specifically at the Inquirer. First, the paper lost Editor Robert J. Rosenthal in November 2001. Walker Lundy took over but retired a year-and-a-half later. In came Amanda Bennett (see Bylines, August/September) as the Inky's editor in June; now, out goes Hall.

Bennett, one of those surprised by Hall's retirement, says he was a wonderful publisher and boss. "You could always express your mind with him, debate things, work things out and realize that he was always looking out for the good of the paper."

At the Daily News, Editor Zack Stalberg says: "I'll miss working for him, and I'll especially miss all that freedom that he permitted me. But at the same time I think it's a great move for him. He's put up with a lot of stuff and difficult times, and he's negotiated both papers through tough water."

Hall, an accountant who joined PNI in 1973, has worked for Knight Ridder for 30 years. …

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