By: Greg Mitchell
Earl Maucker, editor and senior vice president of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, is Editor & Publisher’s Editor of the Year, the magazine announced Monday.
In its profile by Mark Fitzgerald in the February issue, E&P revealed that Maucker was selected for his leadership role in growing the newspaper’s readership and integrating marketing efforts — while nurturing aggressive watchdog journalism that was recognized by winning three finalists spots in the 2006 Pulitzer Prizes.
The Sun-Sentinel achievements in readership growth — propelling it early last year into Florida’s most-read Sunday paper — stands in contrast to other big dailies, especially some of its sibling papers who have been hit hard recently, while facing the uncertain future of Tribune Co.
?I think at the [Tribune] Tower, they?d get rid of the Chicago Tribune before they?d ever let go of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel,? one
former Tribune executive confides, only half-jokingly.
E&P reports in its cover profile: “At a time when metro daily newspaper readership is stalled if not falling, the Sun-Sentinel is growing, and converting skimmers into heavier readers, by following a simple mantra that has become its most repeated advertising message: ‘Local, helpful, useful.'”
Maucker’s insistence on keeping the paper focused on local news and interests is producing stories with national impact, such as its acclaimed series on the incompetence of the federal emergency aid agency FEMA that appeared a full year before Hurricane Katrina hit.
The Sun-Sentinel’s also appeals to its local audience by providing on-the-scene reports from Cuba, where it is one of just four news organizations with a full-time bureau. “Some papers would regard Havana as a foreign bureau. For us, frankly, it’s a suburban bureau,” said Managing Editor Sharon Rosenhause, who this year won the newspaper industry’s top award for efforts to diversify newsrooms.
Maucker began his newspaper career in 1969 as an apprentice printer cleaning Linotype machines at the Alton (Ill.) Telegraph, after flunking out of college and serving in the U.S. Air Force. Offered a newsroom internship, he returned to school, became an award-winning investigative reporter, and eventually managing editor of the old Fort Lauderdale News. There, 26 years ago, Maucker and then-editor Gene Cryer began the process of transforming a sleepy, parochial paper into the Sun-Sentinel now known for its big newshole, watchdog journalism, and growing readership.
A TV commercial running in South Florida neatly summarizes Maucker’s influence on the newspaper, E&P relates. In the spot, Maucker stares into the camera and says, “I’m Editor Earl Maucker. I AM the Sun-Sentinel.”
The full profile of Maucker is available to subscribers via the In Print section on our home page.