What’s Happening In Media Diversity This Week?

Stephen A. Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer leaves his post, Comcast pledges more Hispanic programming and Kagan welcomes cameras into the courtroom. Plus, other happenings in journalism and the publising industry.

End of Strained Relationship Means “Sky’s the Limit”

Sports commentator Stephen A. Smith, who finally returned to the Philadelphia Inquirer in February after a two-year feud with his employer of 15 years, left the paper by mutual agreement on Tuesday.

“I’m as happy as I’ve been for a long time,” Smith told Journal-isms on Wednesday. “I get to do what I really want to do. Anything’s possible. The sky’s the limit.”

Bill Marimow, editor of the Inquirer, said in his own statement, “Stephen made a major contribution to The Inquirer during his 15½ years at the newspaper, and we wish him well in his future work.” He did not return a call seeking further comment.

Marimow fired Smith, the highest paid employee in the Inquirer newsroom, in 2007, precipitating a two-year tug of war involving The Newspaper Guild, arbitrations and high-powered lawyers at the ready. Marimow testified at an arbitration hearing that he thought Smith was making too much money given the layoffs taking place at the paper.

So Marimow demoted Smith, who had branched into radio and television, from columnist to general assignment reporter. When Smith refused the new assignment, he was fired. Smith and the guild took the demotion to arbitration and won, but the Inquirer still did not take him back.

The columnist returned to the paper in February only after agreeing to the Inquirer’s demand that he remove political opinions from his website and agree to stop espousing them on cable news shows. Smith and the guild decided to leave the fairness of that restriction to arbitrators.

Did he and Marimow finally come to terms? “Yes, we have,” Smith told Journal-isms. “He’s happy; I’m happy. We’re moving upward and forward.”

Smith has continued his broadcast appearances, guesting recently on ABC’s “The View” and hosting the morning drive-time show he began in January on Fox Sports Radio.