WHYY acquires local news site Billy Penn

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Philadelphia’s WHYY is the latest public media organization to acquire a local news website. The station announced Monday that it has purchased the site Billy Penn, now owned by Spirited Media.

Launched in 2014 as a mobile-first site with a focus on attracting millennials, Billy Penn covers local subjects including politics, news, sports and food.

Spirited Media announced in March the sale of its Denverite site to Colorado Public Radio and that it was seeking buyers for its other media properties. It also sold its Pittsburgh site The Incline to WhereBy.Us last month.

Billy Penn’s four staffers will join WHYY, moving into the station’s headquarters later this spring, according to WHYY spokesperson Art Ellis.

Billy Penn will continue to operate as a separate brand. WHYY is not planning to make immediate changes to the site, according to Ellis.

The site has “a different focus, style and readership” than WHYY’s news offerings, Ellis said. “That said, there is some overlap. The WHYY and BP news staff will start coordinating to make coverage complementary and minimize duplication. This will evolve over the next few months.”

WHYY President and CEO Bill Marrazzo said in a press release that the site “will be an important addition to WHYY’s media platforms, further building the necessary changes in media infrastructure to accommodate the ongoing shifts from broadcast to digital distribution platforms.”

Billy Penn is member-supported and has about 600 members, according to a WHYY news story. It will continue to have its own membership program, according to a Billy Penn story.

“I’m thrilled to have found such a perfect home for Billy Penn at WHYY, and I’m excited for what that combination will bring to Philly journalism,” Spirited Media CEO Jim Brady said in the release.

WHYY and Spirited Media did not disclose the terms of the deal, but it includes “a limited amount of future revenue considerations,” according to WHYY’s release.

Several other local news sites have become part of public media organizations in recent years. Public media stations bought three Gothamist websites last year, and WNET in New York City took over the public-policy newsroom NJ Spotlight in March.

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