Gerry Lenfest confirmed this morning that he will be the permanent publisher of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com — but added that he still intends to hire a senior executive to oversee the “day-to-day” operations of Interstate General Media, the company that owns the three news outlets.
“Since the sale of the company, I’ve held the title of interim publisher as I took a deeper dive into the business,” he said in a statement emailed to journalists. “After more than two months in that role, I wanted to make the title permanent. I’m enjoying this role as the company continues to make big strides in building a winning culture by assembling a great team of journalists and executives.
He added: “With all this said, I remain committed to recruiting another senior executive to lead day-to-day operations, and I’ve been actively working to do so.”
The confirmation came after BigTrial.net’s Ralph Cipriano noted today that the “interim” label on Lenfest’s “interim publisher” title had disappeared from the Inquirer masthead last week — instead listing him simply as “publisher — and that recent company press releases also referred to Lenfest as the publisher, no “interim” modifier needed.
Lenfest’s decision does not come as a surprise: He has been busy in recent months filling out the ranks of senior company officials — hirings that are traditionally the prerogative of a full publisher.
Lenfest, who is in his 80s, became full owner of the papers almost by accident, of course, winning the company with Lew Katz at an auction in May. Katz died in a plane crash a few days later, and Katz’s heirs sold their father’s stake in IGM back to Lenfest. Until he got back into newspapering — he worked for longtime Inky owner Walter Annenberg decades ago — Lenfest had spent much of the previous decade engaged in philanthropy, giving away his fortune to institutions and causes in the Philadelphia area.
Previously: It’s Over: Gerry Lenfest Takes Control of Inky
Previously: Inquirer, Daily News Co-Owner Lewis Katz Dies in Massachusetts Plane Crash
Previously: Katz, Lenfest Winners of Inquirer, Daily News, Philly.com Auction