My blogging activity has been light for the past few days, and that's probably going to continue for a while: I have a new gig. I'm doing a three-month stint as Acting Vice President-Editorial at Philly.com, the Web site for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.
This is an extraordinary opportunity, even though I think it means the Recovering Journalist has technically fallen off the wagon. Despite its brevity, this is anything but a caretaker position, even though I've got a startup in the oven and I'm definitely not a candidate for the job long-term (if you're a senior Web editor who'd like to succeed me, please let me know. We're also looking for experienced Web producers).
I'm going to get to apply a lot of what I've been talking about in this blog (and for years) to a top-drawer newspaper Web site. I've been asked to use my brief time at Philly.com to be a change agent, to upgrade an already good site, to help to rethink everything the Web editorial operation does, to help more fully integrate the Web and print news operations, to help oversee a redesign of the site and to greatly accelerate the launch of many new initiatives. (Many, hell--there are more than 100 projects, large and small, already on my list!)
For confidentiality reasons, I can't talk in much detail about what we're doing, and I probably won't be able to blog much of it as we go along. But suffice it to say that we'll be aggressively deploying user-generated content (is there any other major newspaper—or news—site putting live user comments on the the home page? We've already started doing it on some lead stories at Philly.com, and there will be much more), experimenting with hyperlocal efforts and crowdsourcing, doing cool new things with video and audio, reaching out to Philadelphia's large network of bloggers and other third-party content sources, baking social networking into the new design, spreading our content far and wide across the net, and doing a lot of other things that every newspaper Web site should be doing.
Best of all, I get to work with the talented, incredibly hard-working staff of Philly.com. I'm also fortunate to be working for a couple of guys who have very lofty and creative ambitions for reinventing the Philadelphia newspapers and the Web site: CEO Brian Tierney and Philly.com President Eric Grilly. And I'm blessed, really blessed, to be able to work with a group of print newspaper editors who understand the importance of doing great, innovative things on the Web and aren't encumbered by the old ways of doing things: among others, Bill Marimow, Mike Leary and Vernon Loeb at the Inquirer and Mike Days and Wendy Warren at the Daily News. They really get it. It's amazing.
So that's where I'll be when I'm not here: applying everything I've learned over the past 15 years in the online world (and 15 years in print before that) to helping to build a world-class news Web site. It's put up or shut up time for this knowitall. I can't believe how lucky I am to get this chance!