At the beginning of the year, I asked Danya Henninger, our arts and culture editor, to step up and lead Billy Penn’s newsroom.
She assumed the title of acting editor, and has directed Billy Penn’s coverage over the past few months. And I’m not saying Danya’s a good-luck charm or anything, but how about that Super Bowl victory?
Being at the helm was a new position for Danya in our organization. She started with us as a freelance reporter in 2014, then became weekend editor and culture editor. That wasn’t entirely a new role for her; she’d previously been editor in chief of the Drink Philly family of websites, as well as the sole person responsible for filling Zagat’s Philadelphia site with stories.
Her past editing experience in the world of food and drink offered great opportunities for the revitalized events program at Billy Penn — our Healthy Cooking Series at Independence LIVE has been a hit so far — but it also turned out to be a good base for general news coverage.
Working with a small staff of one or two, buttressed by a cohort of freelancers around the city, Danya made sure that the site maintained its mission of staying “on top of Philly news.”
Under her management, we published original stories that made an impact, like this explainer debunking myths about Philly’s proposed safe-injection sites. We ran easy-to-scan roundups that recapped big events, such as our live-update Eagles parade post and an up-to-the-minute report on the Old City fire. We ran articles that were just plain funny, like the story behind the viral “crab legs” tag on Instagram. And we shared the best of everything else out there, from investigative reports to gorgeous sunset pics.
Danya also helped oversee the launch of Billy Penn’s new membership program, which readers can join with a contribution that supports local journalism.
Two new reporters have joined the company to work with Danya — Michaela Winberg and Mónica Zorrilla — and she’s looking forward to future hires as she rebuilds the Philly team.
Today, I’m excited to officially announce that I’m removing the modifier of “acting” and officially naming Danya the editor of Billy Penn. Since the day she joined, Danya has been a star, and a wonderful colleague to boot. And I can’t wait to see where she takes Billy Penn. We’ve always prided ourselves of not just being in Philadelphia, but being of it, and no one exemplifies that better than Danya.