June 5-11, 2003
Meet The New Boss
Inky looking for better days under Amanda Bennett.
The robust applause Amanda Bennett received after the announcement that she had been named to replace Walker Lundy as editor and executive vice president of the Inquirer may have signaled a new day at Knight Ridders highest circulation daily newspaper.
Shortly after the Monday afternoon proclamation by Philadelphia Newspaper Inc. publisher and chairman Bob Hall, the hope in the newsroom was that Bennett, the 50-year-old editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader, had ushered in salvation and, perhaps, solutions. The newspaper has had an identity crisis since Gene Roberts' departure in 1990.
"When she spoke to the staff, she was really talking about stories and real journalism," said a staffer who asked for anonymity. "So many of her statements were interrupted by applause. No one ever clapped for Walker -- even though he said similar things last year."
Hall confirmed that Lundy will leave the Inky on June 13, 10 days before Bennett's June 23 start date.
"Walker helped in the transition when we were trying to find candidates," Hall says. "He provided me with assistance and advice. Now, I have a strong team with [Managing Editor] Anne Gordon and a staff of four deputy managing editors. They're going to be a good team with Amanda."
When asked about a newsroom rumor that he, too, is planning to retire, Hall's response was quick and terse. "Absolutely false," he insisted, acknowledging that the misinformation was in the pipeline.
Coming just three weeks after Lundy's decision, the Bennett edict also heralds the appointment of the first female editor in the broadsheet's 174-year history. But female leadership at the Knight Ridder chain is not that atypical. Jerry Ceppos, vice president of news for Knight Ridder, says that five of the chain's eight largest newsrooms have women at the helm. In addition, he says, of the chain's 29 dailies, 13 have female executive editors.
"The profession is so far behind, finally we're beginning to catch up," Ceppos says. "We care a lot about diversity."
Bennett says she's excited about her new position, but minimized notions that being a woman has anything to do with performance.
"I don't know that being a woman gives me any certain kind of management style," she says. "I will say, though, that I have a very inclusive management style that people -- in general -- seem to respond well to. It's just really great to be at a newsroom with a ton of potential and a ton of heart."