Editors at Work: Billy Penn

Shannon Wink is managing editor of Billy Penn, an online-only Philly news website.

How did you get into journalism?
In eighth grade I decided I was going to be a journalist, kind of out of nowhere. I worked at my high school paper, which was not very journalism-based at all. I declared my major as journalism when I got to Temple. I really liked writing, so I thought I’d do the journalism thing, and when I got to Temple, I realized that journalism was a million different things. It’s not just writing. It’s interviewing and reporting, and it just so happened that I enjoyed all of that stuff and was good at it.

What makes Billy Penn different from other news outlets in Philadelphia?

We are designed to look super nice on your phone, and totally fine on your desktop, the idea being that we’re trying to reach a younger, more mobile audience.

What about content?

We try to do things that are a little bit more explainer style— the whys and the hows— and not necessarily chasing stories. We only have three reporters, and their job is also to curate the news. They take shifts on Twitter—they’re adding the curated links to our site—so they do not have time to go to the press conference that everyone else is going to in the city that day. We can link out directly to other news sites.

What is your typical day like?

I usually start between 6 and 6:30 a.m. We do a daily newsletter, so reporters will file their stories, and then we look around for other things to curate. I try to put some of it together the day before. Then, the morning of, we’re looking for fresh stuff to put in there.

I get to the office around 9 or 9:30. Unless there’s breaking news, that’s the slow time when I can either catch up on email or circle back on a longer story that we’re working on and do some edits on that. By the time 2 o’clock rolls around, we’re getting ready for the next day.  We have a month’s worth of stories planned out at any given time. All of that stuff is due a day or two before it’s supposed to run, so we’re prepping all of those stories, so the next morning we can focus on whatever it is that we’re going to cover that day. The middle of the day is whatever Philadelphia can throw at us that day.

Who is your competition?
If you’re in Philly (or interested in Philly) and you have 10 minutes to spare, we want you to spend those 10 minutes with us— not with the Inquirer, not taking a Buzzfeed quiz, not playing some dumb game on your phone.


Billy Penn offers paid editorial internship opportunities for qualified candidates who can produce written and multimedia content. Pitch-based freelance opportunities are also available.

   —Sean Woods, ’09, M.A. ’17