Friday, May 25, 2007

ABJ: Mizzel Stewart Out as Managing Editor [UPDATED]

Mizell Stewart, managing editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, is leaving to become "vice president and editor" of Scripps-Howard's Evansville Courier and Press.

As with all things ABJ, I'm looking at this as a tea leaves thing. Generally the best information on that is the BJ Retirees blog, which as of now hasn't posted on it.

A couple of considerations, though. I'm assuming that the ABJ calling Stewart's new position "editor" is shorthand for editor in chief which would be a step up for a managing editor. Certainly, the market is a step down the ladder. ABJ's circulation is 130,000 weekdays and 175,000 on Sundays. Stewart is leaving for a paper whose circulation is 65,000/90,000. Close call whether this looks like Stewart moving to the next level or Stewart bailing on a sinking paper.

Second note: The story is in the Breaking News section of, having been posted at 3:00 a.m. last night. It's not in the Local News section and presumably not in today's print edition. Hard to believe the Beacon didn't have control over the break. If so, they deliberately posted the story to hit the papers in the news black hole that is Saturday of a three-day weekend. They aren't exactly celebrating Stewart's success.

Stewart is being replaced by an internal candidate, Bruce Winges, who is being named "vice president and editor." The paper doesn't say whether this is a different job description from managing editor or just a different title. It seems at least moderately good news that they are promoting from within as one concern when Black bought the paper was that he would remake it entirely.

Newspeople, feel free to fill in my many blanks.

UPDATES: BJ Retirees just post the ABJ story. Maybe they get a copyright exemption.

AkronNewsNow has an audio clip up of Stewart talking about the move. He sings Winges' praises and says he's excited about moving to the Evansville paper. The paper, he says, is on the "cutting edge" of making the structural changes the climate is forcing newspapers into. That is, a strong web presence, mulitmedia content, additional media properties (he mentioned a couple of magazines).

Quickly looking at the Courier & Press online, gotta say it's an impressive looking site. Very clean, great graphics, ad content that blends with the overall look and more. They have their story about their new editor up.

CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, I misstated Mr. Stewart's new position at one point in the story.


Anonymous said...

Mizell Stewart has a couple of good reasons to leave, big picture and little picture. Big picture: The Beacon is in Big Trouble, businesswise. Its profits have been dragging for years, which is why McClatchy didn't want it when it bought the rest of Knight Ridder. The future doesn't look any better, as circulation and ad revenue continue to fall and positions continue to be cut. The business outlook and opportunities for advancement surely are better with Scripps Howard. Little picture: Stewart functioned as editor since Debra Adams Simmons departed last fall (some would say longer) without ever being given the title. It had to be obvious to him that Black/Moss had no intention of giving him his props, ever. That's insulting, and he was right to leave for that reason too.
Winges is an excellent journalist, a decent guy and a loyal employee. Some people at the Beacon have problems with his management style; he is known to be somewhat controlling and stubborn. His best first move would be to get rid of Ann Sheldon Mezger as metro editor. He would immediately become a newsroom hero, the stuff of Beacon Journal legend.
By the way, the title of vice president has always accompanied the title of editor at the Beacon.
It's notable that just a year ago, all three of the top positions at the Beacon (publisher, editor, managing editor) were held by African-Americans. By June 1, none will be. What, if anything, does this say about the new ownership? Perhaps Stewart realized he never had a chance under David Black.

Scott Piepho said...

Excellent comment, AFB. Just what I was fishing for.