The Philadelphia Inquirer has announced the appointment of media executive Lisa Hughes as publisher and chief executive officer, replacing Terry Egger, who recently told The Inquirer's board of his plans to retire.
Egger had served in the company's top role for four years, during which the ownership of the company was donated to a nonprofit entity, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. Hughes, who has served since 2018 on the Board of Directors of The Inquirer, was most recently the publisher and chief business officer of The New Yorker. The leadership transition will be effective on Feb. 3.
"Lisa Hughes is well-known to the leadership team of The Inquirer and The Lenfest Institute, and is well-positioned to build upon the substantial foundation created by Terry Egger," said Josh Kopelman, chairman of The Inquirer's Board of Directors. "Lisa is a seasoned, high-integrity, high-performance media leader who embodies our values and our strategy. She has a track record as an executive fostering world-class journalism with expertise in transitioning a historically print news business into a multi-platform media powerhouse. I thank Terry for his extraordinary dedication to local journalism, and welcome Lisa to her new role in service of our mission."
Egger was recruited in 2015 by the former owner and publisher of The Inquirer, noted philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest. During his tenure, Egger led the transformation to nonprofit ownership by the Lenfest Institute, a structure designed to enable the long-term sustainability of important local journalism through a combination of business acumen and community support. During Egger's tenure, The Inquirer has more than tripled the size of its investigative news team, meaningfully increased the representation of women and people of color in its newsroom and business organization, and improved its digital offerings. He has been a leading national voice in support of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which would allow publishers to negotiate collectively with major digital platforms over their use of news content. In 2018, he was named Newspaper Publisher of the Year by Editor & Publisher magazine, a top industry trade journal.
"Throughout my 38 years in journalism, I have focused on our core mission: serving the public with essential, high-impact news and information," said Egger. "I could not be more confident in, and excited for, what I know will be Lisa's continuation of this mission. I am honored to have worked with Gerry Lenfest, the Lenfest Family, and the Lenfest Institute to help pioneer a new community-supported model for public-service journalism. I am deeply grateful to the journalists, business team, subscribers, readers, advertisers, foundations and individual donors who have joined us in this vital mission. It has been the highlight of my career to be involved in this mission and work with this group of people."
Hughes brings to the role of publisher an impressive track record, having successfully transitioned an iconic print brand into a multi-platform, profitable business. Hughes will be the first woman publisher and chief executive officer in The Inquirer's 190-year history.
"Philadelphia is the birthplace of free speech, and now in many ways it is ground zero for demonstrating that a deep community commitment to preserving local journalism matters and can be successful," said Hughes. "I am equally humbled and honored to serve in this role. I look forward to working closely with The Inquirer team, The Lenfest Institute, the Philadelphia community, and other important partners on this essential work."
Hughes is known as a skilled business executive who values and respects journalism. Under her nine-year leadership, The New Yorker, owned by Condé Nast, grew from a largely print-only magazine into a multimedia enterprise. Over the past decade, The New Yorker revamped its website and paid digital content strategy and built award-winning mobile apps. Hughes launched the acclaimed New Yorker Radio Hour and Podcast, and restructured The New Yorker Festival into a profitable business. She left the company at the end of 2017.
Prior to The New Yorker, Hughes served as vice president publisher of Condé Nast Traveler for 10 years, steering that magazine through the most successful period in its history.
Philadelphia is now the largest city in America whose flagship local news organization is owned by a nonprofit. The Philadelphia Inquirer is dedicated solely to serving the citizens of the region. While still subject to the news industry's challenging market forces, The Inquirer — especially its most important watchdog journalism — is financially supported by a broad array of local donors and foundations, as well as by its loyal advertisers and subscribers.
"There is no debate that local journalism is under great economic challenge just when our democracy needs it most," said Jim Friedlich, executive director and CEO of the Lenfest Institute. "To address this challenge, the Inquirer needs both the financial support of our community and the leadership of best-of-breed business and news executives. Thanks to the commitment of over a hundred local donors, the Lenfest Institute is providing meaningful financial support to The Inquirer and to the broader local news industry. We are delighted to be joined in this effort by Lisa Hughes, one of journalism's most effective and successful business executives."