Temple University has named a veteran online journalist to lead the new Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network.

Neil Budde, 55, founder of the Wall Street Journal Online (WSJ.com), will become the first chief executive officer of the new-media venture March 6.

At Temple, he will be charged with increasing the amount of quality public-interest journalism in the Philadelphia region.

"What really appealed to me about this opportunity was to come in on the ground floor," Budde said, "and take the great thinking that's already been done and shape it."

PPIIN (Temple has promised it will change the name) was financed by a $2.4 million grant from the William Penn Foundation.

"One of the things that excited me about Philadelphia is that there is a robust journalism community outside of the mainstream," Budde said. "There's a vibrant hacks and hackers community, a tech community, and great journalists - some of whom no longer have jobs - all wanting to do good work in the public interest."

Among the many possible partners he mentioned were WHYY's Newsworks, Technically Philly, and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, all of which also receive William Penn Foundation funding.

Budde, who lives in Georgia, began his career as a reporter and editor at the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal, USA Today, and the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch.

His first foray into online journalism came in 1993 after he spotted a recruitment ad by Dow Jones Information Services.

"I was intrigued by it," Budde said. "Dial-up services were limited to CompuServe, and AOL was still young."

He built WSJ.com from scratch into the largest paid news site on the Web.

Following his work at the Journal, he joined Yahoo News in 2004, where as editor-in-chief he built it into the Web's top news site.

Budde is the current executive vice president at ePals and president of DailyMe, a start-up focused on delivering personalized news.

At Temple, he won't be leaving online journalism.

"Most of what we do with stories and information at PPIIN will be done online," Budde said. "But part of what we'll be doing is trying different approaches that are more social-media inspired ... bringing in more of the community into the process."