Co-owner Gerry Lenfest has spoken out against plans to cut the Inquirer's two-page opinion section in half, according to an email addressed to fellow owners, publisher Bob Hall and editor Bill Marimow, and obtained by City Paper.
According to a knowledgeable source, prominent Philadelphians have been contacting Interstate General Media — which owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — opposing the move. Lenfest's e-mail was sent Thursday and states that "based on all the appeals received and my strong belief, do not reduce the number of Op-Ed pages in the Inquirer." Editorial-page editor Harold Jackson circulated an email on Monday urging contributors to complain about the change, WHYY reported this week.
Lenfest did not respond to a request for comment or to verify the email's authenticity.
One source who has written a letter says that "unlikely suspects" who have "felt the wrath of their editorials" have made their opposition to the cut clear.
IGM tells CP that the decision was made by Hall and Marimow. But a number of newsroom sources, who are outraged over the move, say that owner George Norcross, a powerful South Jersey political boss, is orchestrating the cut.
Sources describe a fight over the company's direction between Norcross and co-owner Lewis Katz, a parking magnate. Sources say they believe that Norcross wanted to eliminate the section entirely, and that the resulting cut was a compromise. It is unclear what Lenfest's role was prior to the current debate.
The planned cut, which City Paper first reported last month, is only the most recent newsroom complaint against a new ownership group perceived to be marginalizing the Inquirer and Daily News to the benefit of Philly.com, which is run by Norcross' daughter Lexie Norcross.
The cut is scheduled to go into effect on Monday. It's unclear whether Lenfest's plea will make a difference.
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