By: Mark Fitzgerald
Sandra Mims Rowe, editor of The Oregonian since 1993, told the newspaper’s staff late Monday that she is retiring at the end of the year.
In an e-mail to the staff, she noted that the newsroom is shrinking by about 70 jobs — a process that began her own meditation on her position.
“At that point (in November) it became clear we would have to shed about 70 jobs total from the newsroom staff,” she wrote in an e-mail first disclosed by the Portland alternative paper Willamette Week. “As we have gotten much smaller as a newsroom, it is also clear we have too many editing positions concentrated at the top of the organization. Over Thanksgiving I wrestled with the number of layoffs we would need and determined it was best to start by removing my own salary from the budget. I informed (Oregonian Publisher N. Christian Anderson III) of my decision last week. Doing this preserves other jobs.”
Anderson named Executive Editor Peter Bhatia as Rowe’s successor as editor.
In a first-ever dual pick, Rowe and Bhatia were named Editor & Publisher’s Editors of the Year for 2008.
During Rowe’s tenure, the Oregonian won five Pulitzers.
Rowe’s successor Bhatia joined the Newhouse family-owned Oregonian in 1993 as managing editor. He was named executive editor in 1997.
In a statement carried on the Oregonian Web site, Donald E. Newhouse, president of Advance Publications, said, “When Sandy came to The Oregonian, many who knew her said we were getting the best newspaper editor in the country. Time has proven those admirers to be clairvoyant. Sandy has succeeded on so many fronts: as a community-spirited journalist; as an innovator; as a brilliant story editor, capable of shaping ideas and content into successful packages, and as a constant advocate for quality, no matter what the resources at her disposal.”
Newhouse added that “in Peter Bhatia, she has nurtured an exceptional partner who will do a fantastic job picking up where she has left off.”
Rowe is a former president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and chairman of the Pulitzer Prizes Board.