A jolt of journalistic caffeine from Seattle

Eric Ulken: On a mission.
Eric Ulken: On a mission.
Posted: August 06, 2014

A SEATTLE-BASED, self-described "news geek" says he's excited by the challenge of swapping the West Coast for Philadelphia and working with journalists at the Daily News, the Inquirer and Philly.com to make the city's most popular news websites better and more profitable.

Eric Ulken, 36, was tapped yesterday as the new executive director of digital strategy for Philly.com and the other digital news properties run by Interstate General Media, the parent company of the Daily News and Inquirer.

"This is an opportunity to be in a place where you have three world-class newsrooms with a great history doing interesting things, and with a real - from what I can tell - hunger for embracing digital, and embracing change," he said yesterday by phone from Seattle.

"That's something that really appealed to me," added Ulken, director of product management for the newspaper website SeattleTimes.com.

Ulken's hiring is part of a recent wave of top personnel changes at the Philadelphia news organization, which in a tumultuous 2014 has been through a sale by auction and the subsequent death of co-owner Lewis Katz in a private-jet crash.

"Eric has a superb editorial leadership and digital-strategy background that makes him a perfect fit for Philly.com and IGM," said IGM proprietor and publisher H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest.

"He also has a strong track record as an innovator, educator and collaborator at some of the best news operations on the West Coast. We see this appointment as another big step toward enriching the value of our content on all platforms."

One of Ulken's first challenges when he arrives at the 8th and Market headquarters next month will be to improve a situation in which Philly.com has increased traffic while paid websites launched last year by the papers, PhillyDailyNews.com and Inquirer.com, have struggled to gain traction.

Ulken said his dual missions - increasing website traffic and subscriptions while boosting ad revenue - will go hand-in-hand. "It starts with the audience and the engagement," he said.


On Twitter: @Will_Bunch

Blog: ph.ly/Attytood.com

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