In an Inquirer newsroom often known for infighting and factionalism, longtime editor Stan Wischnowski somehow emerged with his own reputation … for being a nice guy.
Whether that reputation can help him survive in his new job is an open question. As the new vice president of news operations for Interstate General Media (a job that didn’t exist until new company owner Gerry Lenfest gave it to him this week), Wischnowski gets to set the strategic direction of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com.
It’s a tall order:
• He has to manage the company’s long-faltering transition to the digital era — with his first job being to get Philly.com and the newspapers to play nice with each other, to each side’s benefit, instead of constantly bickering.
• He has has to reinvigorate a Sunday paper that — even with large print circulation losses in the last year — remains the economic engine powering much that happens at the company.
• And he’ll probably need to do what nobody else in the industry has quite managed yet: Figure out how to make newspaper-style journalism pay — online or off — so that his newsrooms can continue to do their job for the next few decades.
It’s clear in talking to Wischnowski that Philly.com — which, after all, has the largest audience of the three newsrooms — will be central to his strategy for distributing and promoting the journalism of all three. “Philly.com is still the dominant website in the region and we have an opportunity to make it better,” he said. “I think we owe it to our users to make it much easier to find what it is they are looking for.”
Last week, following his promotion, Wischnowski spoke to PhillyMag about the task ahead. Some excerpts: