BJ retirees posted today that Val Pipps, a driving force behind much of the Beacon Journals' web presence at ohio.com and the creator of Blogwatch, is leaving to teach full time at Akron U. From the "intercepted memo:"
- Val Pipps has decided to become a full-time teacher of communications at the University of Akron beginning with the fall 2008 semester.
- Val has been a tireless advocate for Ohio.com in general and breaking news on the web site in particular. From the time Val rejoined the newsroom in November 2006 until March, breaking news grew from 205,000 page views a month to 416,000 in March. He also was a key person in moving Ohio.com from McClatchy to its new platform last summer.
The Blogwatch page is currently empty and, per my RSS reader, hasn't been updated since April 2, though a banner for it still sits on the sidebar of the Ohio Politics page. It's not clear whether anyone will take over.
The loss of Blogwatch is of minor consequence. But if Pipps is as important to ohio.com as the memo suggests, the Beacon had better find someone with his vision and savvy to take over. As of now ohio.com is getting overshadowed by AkronNewsNow. If the Beacon cannot continue to grow its internet presence, it will grow increasingly irrelevant.