The new owners of The Inquirer have selected Gregory J. Osberg, former president and worldwide publisher of Newsweek and Newsweek.com, to be the publisher and chief executive officer of the paper's parent company.
A native of Paoli and a graduate of Conestoga High School, Osberg, 52, most recently was president and chief executive of Buzzwire Inc., a mobile-media company that provides content and video for mobile phones. He has previous experience running an Internet-based recruitment service.
As such, he brings to the company a resumé steeped in electronic media as well as significant publishing experience. He started his career at Chilton Publishing in Radnor.
He said he was drawn to his new job by the challenge. He has been living with his family in Princeton.
Osberg called himself a "change agent" and saw his role, in part, to challenge the company to more fully embrace the opportunities offered by the digital world.
"Greg Osberg is a talented media executive with extensive 'old' media and 'new' media experience," said Ann L. McDaniel, senior vice president of the Washington Post Co., the parent of Newsweek. "He's an ideal leader for a 21st-century media company, particularly in Philadelphia, his hometown."
Donald E. Graham, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the Washington Post Co., said: "He's not only a good businessman, he's a thoroughly admirable, decent person. People in Philadelphia will like him and his family very much."
Osberg spent 16 years at various Post properties.
His appointment underscores the stated desire of the new ownership group to position the company to take advantage of the growing reliance on the Internet as a source of news and a place of commerce.
His personal goal for the company, he said, is to position it as the most successful local media company in the country.
"Someone has to be the first regional media company to figure out the successful model," he said, referring to the challenge of moving a fading print product to a digital world which, at the moment, has proved less lucrative. "Why can't it be us in Philadelphia?"
He will take over as top executive from Brian P. Tierney, who has served as CEO of Philadelphia Newspapers L.L.C., the parent company of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com, for the last four years.
Tierney will surrender his post with the transfer of the company to a collection of its senior lenders, which purchased the media firm for $139 million at a marathon auction Wednesday. The sale still must be confirmed by Chief Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Raslavich on May 25. After that, closing is expected before the end of June.
Tierney said he met Osberg about a year after he bought the newpapers. "We had a nice time talking about growing up in Philadelphia," he said.
While it will be some time before he officially takes the reins, Osberg said he hoped to occupy an office in the company's Broad Street headquarters soon so that he can begin meeting with employees and start contract negotiations with the company's 14 unions, whose contracts have been extended since last year. The agreement of sale calls for a successful completion of the negotiations.
Asked about the coming negotiations, Osberg indicated that there was a need for "compromise" to improve the company's financial picture. However, he said he was not coming to the job with an eye toward trimming his way to profitability.
"I did not come here just to cut costs," he said. "The plan is for growth."
He described his management style as collaborative. He said he would spend time describing his goals for his staff, and allow the company's employees to help find the path to those goals.
He said he had three goals in mind as he starts: Produce more relevant content; encourage and reward innovation - "especially digital innovation" - and improve the profitability of the company.
As for content, he said he was looking for "a must read" delivered in varying forms for varying media.
"Content has to be designed for the device that delivers it," he said, meaning the content sent to mobile-phone users cannot simply be repackaged stories from the print editions.
He identified reaching mobile-phone users as "a big part of the plan." He saw great commercial possibilities there.
He acknowledged that the transition from the print to the digital could be challenging for some employees, but his experience has been that a great many embrace the change.
"I believe strongly in stimulating people's learning curve," he said.