St. Petersburg Times names three managing editors
Assistant managing editor/features Mike Wilson, managing editor/Clearwater Joe Childs and deputy managing editor/presentation editor Patty Cox were each elevated to managing editor jobs with different responsibilities. They officially start their new positions Dec. 1.
Wilson will be managing editor/enterprise (features, investigative, entertainment, lifestyles, national and foreign coverage); Cox will be managing editor/presentation (the presentation of the newspaper and Web site); and Childs will be managing editor/Tampa Bay (breaking news, local news coverage, state government and politics, business and sports).
The changes come as the newspaper moves to create a continuous news desk to steadily feed stories onto the Web and other platforms. Several other executives were assigned to different duties in reconfiguring the Times’ news operations, aligning personnel under the three major divisions and more fully merging online staffers with print journalists.
“It is time to fully integrate those who work on the St. Pete Times and on Tampabay.com into a single enterprise that will better compete for new readers and new dollars,” read a memo from executive editor Neil Brown released to the staff Thursday.
Brown’s priorities: overcoming geographic hurdles, addressing reader tastes, addressing staff development and reconciling newsgathering with customers’ desire to get news on their own terms.
“For journalists, these are times of unprecedented financial difficulty and thrilling possibility,” he added later. “That makes these changes all the more exciting. They are about growth, not retreat.”
A portion of Brown’s memo follows:
Joe Childs becomes Managing Editor/Tampa Bay. Joe will lead the division that will be responsible for breaking news, local news coverage in Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, state government and politics, Business and Sports.
Mike Wilson becomes Managing Editor/Enterprise. Mike will have authority over the Sunday paper, and lead a division that will include the investigative team, Perspective, features, entertainment and lifestyles work, national and foreign coverage, and a new enterprise team to bring greater smarts and creativity to the daily paper.
Patty Cox becomes Managing Editor/Presentation. Patty will lead the division with responsibility for the final presentation of our journalism in the Times and on tampabay.com. This division will include the design and copy desks, the Photo Department, multi-media journalists, News Art and the senior editor/nights.
But wait, there’s more! In support of these managing editors and in the name of integration, I’m pleased to announce several new assignments:
Deputy Managing Editor Rob Hooker will oversee our suburban/regional editions. Rob will pass on his staff development responsibilities in order to guide the bureaus and bring fresh direction to the regionals, which remain central to our place as the local news leader. Rob will report to Joe.
Christine Montgomery becomes Deputy Managing Editor of the combined St. Pete Times and tampabay.com, responsible for all entertainment and lifestyle content in print and online. Christine will also work with web Publisher Stephen Buckley in developing a new signature site geared toward entertainment/lifestyle and things to do around Tampa Bay. Christine will report to Mike.
Deputy Managing Editor Jeanne Grinstead will direct staff development, training, research, newsroom administration and be a liaison with the Audience Development department. As something of a “chief of staff,” Jeanne will report to me and will take on projects as needed, including our sponsorship of political debates and exploration of a unified political web site with the Miami Herald.
Jack Sheppard becomes Deputy Managing Editor/Sports. In addition to directing our award-winning sports staff (and leading our Super Bowl coverage) Jack will help us explore new products and special sections online and in print. He will report to Joe.
Pat Farnan becomes Assistant Managing Editor/Breaking News. Pat will be the senior editor day-today directing our live coverage of news to ensure that tampabay.com is the area’s leading news source around the clock. Much of that work will also find its way into the print edition. Pat, along with Patty, Boyzell Hosey, Ron Brackett and others, will build a “continuous news desk,” which will become our assignment hub, as well as monitor our online and TV competitors. Pat will report to Joe.
Jennifer Orsi becomes the Metro Editor of the St. Pete Times and tampabay.com and will have authority over our Tampa and St. Pete reports. Jennifer will divide her time between the St. Pete and Tampa newsrooms, directing local beat and Metro-wide coverage from those offices. Jennifer will report to Joe.
Scott Montgomery becomes Senior Editor/government and politics. Scott will direct our state political coverage including our new partnership with the Miami Herald. He will also oversee PolitiFact, which we will expand to include fact-checking of Florida and local stories. He will report to Joe.
As sweeping as these appointments may seem, they represent only a beginning.
Organizing ourselves around a continuous news desk will take time. Tampa Bay needs a top-notch entertainment/things-to-do web site and we’ve got fantastic content. Yet shaping it in ways easy to use – and making money at it – will be a challenge. Increasing our investigative journalism, expanding PolitiFact and integrating enterprise reporters into the daily mix will require resource tradeoffs that will be new for us.
A new structure means that there will be more changes, more people trying new things.
Many of us will find ourselves with new opportunities, new bosses, maybe sitting somewhere new. Understandably, some of you will view this with anxiety, others as exciting new starts. We’ll undoubtedly try some things that won’t work and need to be nimble enough to change course in ways we didn’t expect. Yet we can’t stand
still. For journalists, these are times of unprecedented financial difficulty and thrilling possibility.
What inspires me about taking on such challenges is this: the collective talent of our News Department.
This past year we made substantial changes to our main newspaper (Flagship), expanded our online journalism tremendously (PolifiFact, Go Momma, etc.), published a remarkable narrative (Girl in the Window) and covered a spectacular run of news (the historic election, the Rays etc.). We did this while some 20 percent of the staff departed and yet kept our daily journalism strong, and grew Sunday circulation and online audience. Our competitive position in Tampa Bay and Florida has never been
And that makes these changes all the more exciting. They are about growth, not retreat.
Please join me in congratulating our colleagues on these new assignments. I know we’re all eager to get to work.