By: Lesley Messer
In the August 3 exchange of several Knight Ridder and Gannett newspapers from across the nation, one of the dailies changing hands was the Tallahassee Democrat in Florida, which will be moving to Gannett.
In the process, Mizell Stewart III will not retain his top editor post, but he said he will remain with Knight Ridder in a consulting capacity. Stewart’s replacement has not yet been named.
“I’d say the main feeling in the newsroom is one of surprise,” he told E&P this evening, explaining that he had no idea that the trade was taking place. “I think people are going to wait to see what the change means to them.”
Stewart said that with a new editor in place, there could potentially be changes made to the newspaper, although he would not predict what they would be. However, he does not have reason to believe that there will be much turnover among reporters.
“There will be no other changes in the newsroom now, but I will not be the editor so when the new owners take over, obviously they will want to make decisions about the newsroom,” he explained. “This is a strong staff and a staff that has grown circulation and reader satisfication. They [Gannett executives] recognize the effort.”
Stewart believes that the sterling reputation of the newspaper helped contribute to its role in the sale.
?It’s a state capital newspaper. It’s in a stable market that is growing and is poised to grow,? he said. ?Gannett has described Tallahassee as potentially a flagship operation among their Florida newspapers.?
And while he’s excited to face the challenges ahead, Stewart expressed sadness at the thought of leaving the paper he’s been with since 2000. (He became the editor in 2003.)
?It is my fondest hope that Gannett chooses to invest in Tallahassee and make decisions that help grow this newspaper and grow this market,? he said.