Former ‘Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader’ Intern Now Editor

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By: Joe Strupp

A Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader deputy managing editor, who began at the paper as an intern 17 years ago, has been named editor, the paper reported Tuesday.

Peter Baniak, 37, who has served most recently as deputy managing editor for news, had been overseeing the newsroom since March 23, when former editor Linda Austin announced she would leave to join Arizona State University.

In announcing Baniak’s promotion, Publisher Timothy M. Kelly said: “He has earned the respect and confidence of those with whom he works. It is clear to me that he has the support of the newsroom staff and a dedication to the Herald-Leader and to Lexington, all of which were very important to me in the selection process.”

Baniak told the paper his top priority will be to maintain a commitment to aggressive government watchdog journalism, and to focus on “telling the unique stories that define the region and the state, from life and basketball at the University of Kentucky to the Thoroughbred industry to the quirky people, places and culture of Central and Eastern Kentucky.”

“These are challenging times in the newspaper business, but the journalism we do has never been more important – or more in demand from readers of the paper and on the Web,” Baniak said in the story. “This newspaper has a long history of provocative work, and it’s important for the state and the region that we continue to pursue journalism that matters.

“With the Web, we have amazing tools at our fingertips to tell breaking stories quickly, to enhance stories with images and sound and to give readers layers of additional information about the investigative work we do,” he added.

Baniak interned at the paper in 1992, while a student at Northwestern University. He joined the paper full-time in 1995, first covering Lexington city hall, then growth and development, and later state politics in the paper’s Frankfort bureau.

He became a city desk editor in 2001 and led the paper’s coverage of the August 2006 crash of Comair Flight 5191, the paper reported. He became deputy managing editor in March 2008.

“Journalistically, I’ve grown up at the Herald-Leader. I’ve come to see this newsroom, this city and this state as home,” Baniak said in the story. “It’s an incredible honor to be asked to lead a newspaper that means so much to this place, and to me.”

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