Yarnold to Leave ‘San Jose Mercury News’ for Enviro Group

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By: E&P Staff

David Yarnold, editor of the San Jose Mercury News, is leaving the paper to head Environmental Defense, a non-profit group headquartered in New York, according to a memo he sent to staff Wednesday.

“After nearly 27 wonderful years at the Mercury News, I’m leaving to take on a new challenge,” Yarnold said in the memo, first posted on the Poynter Institute’s Romenesko site. “I’m going to become Executive Vice President of Environmental Defense in New York. Joining one of the nation’s most accomplished and respected environmental advocacy non-profits at this level offers me a daunting, tantalizing, steep learning curve and an opportunity that will stretch me in new and unanticipated ways.”

In the memo, Yarnold noted his rise up the newsroom ladder, saying “thanks to an incredibly supportive series of mentors and supervisors here and at Knight Ridder, I’ve served in nearly every newsroom role, from copy editor to executive editor. That kind of flexibility and acceptance of change remains a hallmark of this newspaper.”

He wrote that Publisher George Riggs “offered me several, creative new options. In the end, though, I’ve concluded that I’ve had a great run and I’m ready to move on. It’s always hard to know when that time has come and I’ve struggled with this decision because of my deep affection for the Mercury News. But it’s a decision I’ve come to with passion and clarity.” Yarnold’s last day will be Monday, April 4.

“As I look back on these rich years, it’s easy to point to the achievement I hold most dear: Your development and progress as individual journalists and as a newspaper devoted to its community,” the memo continued. “I can’t walk through the newsroom and see each of you without recalling a hiring conversation or a return from a maternity leave or a sensational story, photograph, illustration, design or headline. When I step back, I see a newspaper that demonstrates its commitment to a diverse community and a leadership team, headed by [executive editor] Susan Goldberg, that is unafraid of the bold changes needed to succeed in the years ahead.”

He also pointed to the International Society of News Design naming The Mercury News one of the world’s five best designed papers has a highpoint in his time there. “I knew it was time to step away, leaving the next level of achievement to others. Why? Because it’s important for any progressive newspaper to engage in constant self-renewal.”

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