Changes at the St. Pete Times: Matt Waite, Jeff Testerman, Dan Ruth and more
I've been meaning for a while to note some of the behind-the-scenes changes here at the St. Petersburg Times. But news outside your own walls always looks more interesting, so forgive me for taking so long to acknowledge in this space some pretty momentous changes among the folks who bring our news noise every day.
The biggest recent move has been noted elsewhere already (most notably on the local site SaintPetersblog), the departure of PolitiFact designer and longtime online journalism guru Matthew Waite from status as a remote employee. Matt has another great job lined up, fortunately, on the faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We're losing a lot; in addition to being to coolest geek I know, Matt was a key architect of our Pulitzer Prize-winning political fact-checking website, designed our popular if controversial Mugshots site, and crafted some amazing work on environmental issues with our colleague Craig Pittman.
At a time when the distinction between new and old media is increasingly disappearing, Matt is a journalist who is passionate about both sides of the equation -- the technology side and the hell-raising reporting side. I hope we at the Times find a way to keep working with him on a different level, because his talents and achievements are awesome.
We've also seen two key fellows from our investigative efforts leave us. Jeff Testerman, whose amazing work unmasking the problems behind the U.S. Navy Veterans Association is just the tip of a 30-year reporting career, is retiring next month. Con artists in Tampa may breathe a bit easier, now that the guy who nailed swindler Matthew B. Cox and former Tampa housing authority chief Steve LaBrake among many others is leaving (I always remember the time, 15 years ago, when Jeff admonished this young reporter for having a pop song and funny outgoing message on my voice mail; I was pop music critic then so I didn't change it, but I always thought his advice was cute.)
Richard Bockman is a name you might not know from bylines in the newspaper, but as our investigations editor he has left serious fingerprints on some of our most impactful stories over more than 20 years at the newspaper. His sharp mind and great instincts helped shape our reports on Scientology, the Navy Vets, the Taj Mahal courthouse, a pedophile Polk County sheriff's deputy and caregivers for those with Alzheimer's. He left us last month to join a Tampa law firm close to his home.
And, to end with some good news, it's been great to see former Tampa Tribune columnist Dan Ruth join our editorial board and staff, contributing more columns to our op-ed page. Dan and I have held a lot of the same jobs -- he covered TV in Chicago and I did the editorial board thing here six years ago -- so it's been wonderful to tap his wisdom a little more when Glenn Beck goes off the rails or bad behavior breaks out in Bubba Clem's backyard.
I am not often comfortable writing about St. Petersburg Times stuff. But I wanted to acknowledge these guys in this space, because they're all great colleagues and deserve a little attention on a media blog.