By: Joe Strupp
Joe DiStefano, the veteran Philadelphia Inquirer business reporter who spent most of the past year writing about his own paper — from its sale to a near strike — officially became part of the story last week when he left his job for a post at Bloomberg News.
After more than nine years at the paper, which ended the same week that some 70 fellow newsroom colleagues were laid off, DiStefano chose to move on, but says he had been in talks with Bloomberg for nearly a year.
“I started talking to them last March before I knew who was going to own the paper,” DiStefano, 43, told E&P. “I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Knight Ridder announced in late 2005 that it planned to put its properties up for sale. When the Spring 2006 announcement came that McClatchy would buy the chain, DiStefano was the key Inquirer reporter on the story. Eventually, he covered the sale of the Philadelphia papers from McClatchy to local investors headed by current publisher Brian Tierney. Then, when the Newspaper Guild threatened to strike amid difficult contract talks, DiStefano was in the middle of that.
“It was a lot of fun and I am glad I got the assignment,” he said Tuesday, a day after starting at Bloomberg’s New York office. “They were very gracious and asked me to stay. But I have always gone on to a larger organization, it is easier to learn at a larger organization.”
While DiStefano, who is married with six children, was not laid off, he has sought to have his departure treated as a voluntary layoff. That would entitle him to layoff severance, and possibly allow another staffer who had been slated for a layoff to keep his or her job. “I hope that is what happens,” he said. “But that is really between the union and the company.”