Doug Clifton Stepping Down as ‘Plain Dealer’ Editor

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By: E&P Staff

Doug Clifton, 63, announced today that he will be leaving his longtime post as editor at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland in June. He has held the post for eight years.

?I?ve decided to let the cat out of the bag now,? he told about 130 staff members who gathered in the newsroom for the 10 a.m. announcement, according to a Plain Dealer account on its Web site. ?I can?t tolerate this telling of little white lies.?

Clifton said his decision had nothing to do with recent buyouts, which left the paper with 64 fewer newsroom employees. He called Publisher Terrance C.Z. Egger, who came to the Plain Dealer in May, “as good as it gets. We lucked out.?

In a letter to staff today, Terrance C.Z. Egger, president and publisher, wrote, “Doug and I have had some great conversations about his future and the future of our newspaper in recent months, and I want you to know that it was my hope tha we could keep him at the helm of the newsroom for a few more years….That said, I deeply respect the personal decision Doug and Peg [his wife] have made at this point in their lives. They have a wonderful family and lots of other passions and interests they are ready to dive into more fully.”

He noted that Clifton “simply wanted to put an end to speculation and help us with a smooth transition.” He called Clifton “one of the finest editors in America.”

Egger said he will only now “begin the process” of looking for a new editor. He said there was a lot of talent in the newspaper’s newsroom and around the country.

In 2003, he was named Editor of the Year by E & P. Two years later, Connie Schultz won the paper?s first Pulitzer Prize in more than 50 years.

Editor & Publisher praised Clifton in 2003 for his ?talents for nurturing investigative projects, taking on local establishments, and energizing newsrooms.?

The Plain Dealer’s story today concluded as follows.

*

As he steps down from the business he has been in for 37 years, others praise Clifton for his tenacious fight to protect freedom of speech and the press.

?He?s one of the strongest, best advocates for the First Amendment and for open records and open meetings and all those things that fall out of the First Amendment,? said Scott Bosley, executive director of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. ?His work, both on a national level and from what I know of in Ohio, has always made a difference.?

The Brooklyn, N.Y., native graduated from Dowling College on Long Island with a political science degree and served three years in the Army, including a year as an artillery officer during the Vietnam War.

He started his newspaper career after walking out of a law school orientation. He realized then that he wanted to be a journalist.

In 1970, he took his first job at The Miami Herald, moving up the ranks to deputy managing editor. Seventeen years later, he went to work as news editor of Knight Ridder?s Washington bureau. In 1989, The Charlotte Observer named him managing editor.

Clifton returned to The Miami Herald as executive editor in 1991. Under his leadership, the paper won three Pulitzer Prizes, including one for meritorious public service for the 1992 coverage of Hurricane Andrew.

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