The Richmond Times-Dispatch today named veteran journalist and former Times-Dispatch reporter Pamela Stallsmith as its next opinions editor.
Stallsmith, who currently serves as director of communications for the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, starts Feb. 18.
Stallsmith replaces Editor of the Editorial Pages Bob Rayner, who will extend his retirement date to March 1. She will be The Times-Dispatch’s first female opinions editor.
“We are fortunate to have Pam rejoin us at a time when informed, knowledge-based opinion has never been more in demand,” said Times-Dispatch President and Publisher Tom Silvestri. “She understands the history, the current issues and the potential for solution-based opinion pages that are must-reads every day. We also appreciate Bob staying on for a smooth transition.”
Stallsmith, 55, was part of The Times-Dispatch’s news team from 1988 until 2007, covering state news, the governor, the General Assembly and politics across Virginia. Her first assignment at The Times-Dispatch was covering Southside Virginia out of the Clarksville bureau before moving to the Petersburg bureau. She then worked in Richmond as a general assignment reporter and part-time editor on the state desk before becoming part of the newspaper’s politics and government team in 1996.
Besides state government and politics, she covered, among other topics, state education trends, the horse racing industry, rural housing issues, migrant workers and campaign finance. Before joining The Times-Dispatch staff in 1988, Stallsmith was a reporter at The News and Advance in Lynchburg. She also previously worked in corporate communications at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
“I’m looking forward to returning to The Times-Dispatch and being part of an issues-focused opinions page that looks for solutions to the challenges facing our region and state,” Stallsmith said. “This is an exciting opportunity to strengthen the newspaper’s impact and help shape the discussion about those concerns.”
Stallsmith, who lives in Henrico County with her husband, Tom Hohing, received her undergraduate degree from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg. She also has a master’s degree in mass communications from VCU and a mini-MBA from the University of Richmond.
Stallsmith’s hiring will usher in changes to how The Times-Dispatch publishes opinions in print and online. The Times-Dispatch will maintain our strong tradition of publishing a variety of opinions each day in the form of letters, op-eds and columns. However, after Stallsmith starts in her new role, The Times-Dispatch will begin publishing only signed opinion pieces in an effort to ensure full transparency and accountability for all of our content – news and editorial.
Further, The Times-Dispatch plans to create a Community Advisory Board to help facilitate dialogue between the readers and the opinions staff about key issues and topics throughout the region and state. This board will help reshape the opinions pages and content in print and online, with an eye toward engagement on social media.
Stallsmith will join Robin Beres, deputy editor of opinions, and Cindy Paris, senior editor for commentary, as well as a lineup of syndicated columnists and guest commentary contributors from the community.
Items published on the opinions page will include pieces written by current editorial staff, as well as veteran news columnists Michael Paul Williams and Jeff Schapiro and members of the community. Currently the news commentary from Schapiro and Williams is published on Page A2 under the “Local Perspectives” heading.
Stallsmith and her team will report to Executive Editor Paige Mudd.
“Pam served as my mentor when I interned on The Times-Dispatch’s state desk 20 years ago, and I’ve always valued her strong news judgment and guidance,” Mudd said. “I’m excited that she’s coming back to be part of this refresh of our opinions content, which can be a true complement to and advocate for our news coverage.”
This spring, The Times-Dispatch will host an event for the public to meet Stallsmith and the opinions department. Look for more information in the coming weeks.