The Institute for Journalism in New Media, created by philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest earlier this year to advance the development of quality local journalism, today announced the appointment of its first executive director: Jim Friedlich, a former Wall Street Journal business executive who in recent years has led a consulting firm focused on the future of journalism.
Lenfest also acquired the assets of Friedlich’s consulting firm, Empirical Media Advisors, and donated them to the Institute. The acquisition provides the nonprofit Institute with significant digital media expertise and operational experience.
“These are exciting next steps for the Institute,” said Lenfest. “The hiring of Jim Friedlich – one of the most talented and capable thinkers in the business of journalism – will help propel our mission: developing effective models for powerful public-service journalism on a local and regional level in the digital age.”
Lenfest continued, “Jim Friedlich has devoted his business career to the mission of promoting and advancing great journalism, first as a senior executive at The Wall Street Journal and then through his advisory practice at Empirical Media. The Institute now has leadership with decades of news industry experience and a proven track record in helping newspapers navigate the digital media landscape to help us in pursuit of that mission.”
Friedlich and his Empirical Media colleagues have worked with a variety of public and private news media companies to assist in the advancement of their journalistic mission and the success of their digital transition. These include Philadelphia Media Network, The Dallas Morning News, Tribune Publishing (now tronc), WNYC, The Sydney Morning Herald, Reuters, Time Inc. and The Wall Street Journal. Empirical’s mission is closely aligned with Lenfest’s vision for the Institute – funding innovation in local and regional journalism, and the business of news.
Prior to founding Empirical Media, Friedlich managed global advertising sales, consumer marketing and business development for The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones & Company’s international news properties. Drawing on this experience, Friedlich will develop innovative, results-driven initiatives for the Institute with three major priorities:
- Providing resources and solutions to legacy news organizations as they continue to evolve
- Identifying and investing in new platforms and product development in partnership with respected foundations, universities, and news organizations
- Advancing news reporting through investments in impactful community journalism projects and the development of new skills
“I am honored to join Mr. Lenfest and the Institute Board of Managers in this exciting new endeavor,” said Friedlich. “I have long shared Mr. Lenfest’s passion for protecting and advancing quality journalism, and I am deeply committed to helping great news organizations succeed in the digital age. I am especially excited about the Institute’s focus on local journalism in the Philadelphia region and similar markets across the United States. Local markets are where the threat to great journalism is most severe and the opportunity for innovation is most pronounced.”
As a grant-making organization, the Institute will invest in and support innovative news initiatives nationwide, with a special emphasis on opportunities in metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia. With the opportunity to partner closely with Philadelphia Media Network – made up of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com – and other local media as a “test kitchen” for innovation, the Institute can create a blueprint for other legacy news organizations nationwide.
The Institute will offer advisory services to media organizations across the country. Empirical Media will be fully integrated into the Institute and operate under the Institute brand.
In January 2016, Lenfest launched the Institute for Journalism in New Media and subsequently donated The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com to the newly formed tax-exempt organization. The Institute operates under the TPF Special Assets Fund associated with The Philadelphia Foundation.