Meet E&P's 2023 class of "Editors Extraordinaire"


It’s easy to recognize those who run the news media company or write award-winning articles, but there are those behind the scenes whose contributions are immeasurable. In newsrooms across the country, editors bear heavy responsibilities — leading the newsroom, determining what stories should be told and who is best positioned to tell them, challenging assertions, developing talent, elevating journalism — all while maintaining an unwavering commitment to the public’s interest. Their names may not always be as familiar as bylined reporters or celebrated columnists, but their insight, experience and leadership are indispensable.

Through 2010, Editor and Publisher saluted an “Editor of the Year.” Beginning last year, we decided to celebrate the editors’ contributions to news media once again, and we’ve found that many are deserving. We hope you enjoy meeting this exemplary group of E&P’s 2023 Editors Extraordinaire.

(Alphabetically, by last name)

Jonathan T. Carter (Photo by Jennifer Quinn, APG Media of Chesapeake)

Jonathan T. Carter

Executive Editor, APG Media of Chesapeake, Easton, MD (until 4/2023)
Politics Editor, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, MD (beginning 4/2023)

Education: North Carolina State University, bachelor of arts in political science; Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, master of science in journalism

Number of years in news media: Six years

What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire?

The two most important things an editor, or any journalist, must always strive for are accuracy and empathy. If those two traits drive an editor’s work, they will always produce journalism that seeks to understand and tells the truth. 

Understanding your stories and your reporters on deeper levels than just reading copy is essential to guiding your newsroom or desk staff. Know what your reporters want to get out of a story or their job, personally and professionally. Empathizing with your reporters, just like empathizing with a source for a story, is integral to accomplishing the most impactful writing.

Most importantly: Do not ever take your reporters or the work they produce for granted. Editors exist to ensure the trains run on time, that our reporters have assignments and that the copy we publish is clean and impactful. Check in on them regularly, listen to their needs and do everything possible to ensure they have the necessary tools to do their jobs.

What was something you’ve published that truly surprised you with how your audience received it?

There have been plenty of articles that got a lot of unexpected attention, but one, in particular, stands out.

One of my reporters conducted an investigative series on a pharmaceutical company in our coverage area. There was clearly something afoot from the owners’ actions, and the facts were that the drugs they distributed to pharmacies were mislabeled.

We covered the story, and, to my surprise, many community members were upset that we had sullied the name of local business owners. It’s important in these situations to double down on good reporting and the facts. Engaging with people online (especially on social media) will never bear fruit.

We continued publishing the truth about the drug company and, eventually, some of the keyboard warriors started to relent. Keeping the faith with your reporters in these situations is essential, as they will look to their editors to stand firm and back up their reporting. Always defend, protect and support your reporters. They are the most valuable asset a newsroom has.

Joe Kieta

Joe Kieta

Editor, The Fresno Bee, Fresno, CA

Education: University of Toledo, bachelor of arts in history and communication studies

Number of years in news media: 28 years

What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire? 

Editors today have a dizzying list of responsibilities and asks, but above all, it’s our job to set the table for success. Journalism is a collaborative endeavor, and editors must make sure every member of the newsroom team has the necessary guidance, tools and support to tell stories that have impact. Sometimes this means getting creative about adding staff and resources. Other times it’s more granular — helping reporters “see the story” and then setting them out to do the job. We’re also the keepers of newsroom standards and must set aspirational goals. If we do all of these things, our work will improve, our journalists will grow in their careers, and the community will benefit through deeper coverage that gives voice to the voiceless.

Why should investigative journalism be important to local news publications?

Investigative and enterprise journalism helps differentiate the work we do and holds the powerful to account. It tells the “why” and “how” when we already know the “who,” “what” and “when.” Good investigative reporting is hard work, but it’s rewarding and essential. It’s also best when it’s solutions-oriented and focused on how problems can be solved. Communities count on local news organizations to tell the truth and provide this coverage. If we don’t, who will? We must make it a priority.

Dan McCaleb

Dan McCaleb

Vice President of News and Content, Franklin News Foundation, and Executive Editor, The Center Square, Chicago

Education: Allegheny College, bachelor of arts degree

Number of years in news media: 32 years

What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire?

Ask tough questions — of your sources, your editors and your colleagues.

Don’t simply follow the herd. Carve your own path. Dig deeper. Inquire more.

Edit yourself (twice) before you turn in your story.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is your friend.

What is in your editorial toolbox?


            AP Style guide



            Reference books

            Rolodex (yes, digital nowadays) 

            My colleagues (who are much smarter than me on a wide variety of topics)

John G. Miller

John G. Miller

Executive Editor, WV News, Clarksburg, WV

Education: Salem-Teikyo University, bachelor of arts in communications-broadcasting; Glenville State University, honorary doctorate of journalism

Number of years in news media: 38+ years

 What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire?

The key is to surround yourself with good people and be open to learning new skills. Unless you're working for a big organization that allows you to specialize, realize the more skills you bring to the table, the better suited you are for success. I can lead effectively because I know what skills are needed for each position and can help others reach their goals.

You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but it helps to have people who can find answers and solutions and work well together as a team.

I’ve been blessed to cross paths with great journalists, some of whom remain with us today, and others have moved to larger publications. Thanks to the strong support of local, committed ownership of our print publications and digital platforms, all have been a part of our remarkable success story.

What do you see as the most important trend in editorial content today?

Focusing on community journalism by being better storytellers and using a true multimedia approach, with stories, photos and videos to capture a better experience for the audience, is crucial. We don’t control how people view our content. Our job is to make sure it’s available to them and that it’s of high quality and purpose. We can’t lose sight of what we do: tell other people's stories, educate on important issues and chronicle history as it is being made.

Michael Norton

Michael Norton

Editor, State House News Service, Boston

Education: Northeastern University, bachelor of arts in journalism

Number of years in news media: 38

What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire?

Always pay attention to word efficiency. His example was an obvious exaggeration, but Kevin from “The Office” was on to something when he famously said, “Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick.”  

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned by covering government officials?

Judge yourself not on how much you know but on how curious you are to learn more. It leads to better questions and more insightful responses from elected officials. Readers get better stories when reporters knock elected officials off their talking points.

Allison Petty

Allison Petty

Central Illinois Executive Editor, Lee Enterprises

Education: Kaskaskia Community College, associate’s degree; Southern Illinois University Carbondale, bachelor of science in journalism; University of Illinois Springfield, master of arts in public affairs reporting

Number of years in news media: 14 years

What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire?

Stay curious — not only about your community but also about the work of others in your organization. We talk a lot about the challenges inherent in being part of a rapidly evolving industry. One unexpected gift, though, is this: You know that everyone in your organization is there out of passion for the job and dedication to the community. I work with incredible veteran journalists who have rolled with the industry's changes for decades and keep showing up daily to fight for its future. I also work with outstanding young journalists who are eager to find ways to reach their generation of audiences. It is a privilege to learn from all of their perspectives, and I recommend that anyone working at any level in a newsroom try to do the same. 

What are some important lessons you have learned from your audience?

They crave authenticity. More than ever, we are besieged by marketing that masquerades as other things — sponsored content presented as authentic review, influencers slyly wedging product placements into their Instagram stories, companies producing press releases that look like news and so on. This is especially true for younger audiences, who have never known anything but constant, sometimes insidious bids to capture their attention at every turn. They are often skeptical of any source that purports to be unbiased, and they are generally more likely to trust an individual than a brand. The challenge, and the opportunity, ahead of us now is learning how to permeate the noise.

Autumn Phillips

Autumn Phillips

Executive Editor, The Post and Courier, Charleston, SC

Education: Goddard College, master of fine arts in creative writing

Number of years in news media: 25 years

What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire?

  1. Exercise — and do it in the morning before work. The stress, long hours and poor eating habits of journalists will destroy you if you don't.
  2. Have a life outside of the newsroom. Journalism can satisfy everything you need out of life — social life, intellectual challenge, creativity, a sense of purpose. But having a rich life outside the newsroom will make you a better journalist — bringing depth to your work.
  3. Create a learning culture in the newsroom that encourages everyone to take risks. The easiest way to start is to always seek out great writing and reporting and discuss it with your staff in chats, brown bags and one-on-one conversations.

What has been your proudest moment as an editor?

We launched a project years ago called Rising Waters, a new way to look at the increasing pace of climate change in our area. We created a series of project-length stories and deployed them over a year as breaking news — projects written with real-time details of flooding. The first time we did it, it took all day to work through the logistics, and we published at 7 p.m. We were proud of that. But we got better each time and got to the point where we had planned all the logistics, deployed as soon as the flooding began, sent in feeds to the lead writer and published in a couple of hours. The kind of teamwork, creativity and communication it took to pull that off was a huge learning experience for us and some of the most fun I’ve had as an editor.  

Allie Prater

Allie Prater

Managing Editor, Cimarron Valley Communications | Yale News | The Keystone Gusher | The Cushing Citizen, Cushing, OK

Education: High school diploma

Number of years in news media: Three years

What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire?

Follow your instincts, listen to your readers and don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. The world constantly evolves around us, and if we don’t actively grow with it, we will be left behind. I cannot recommend enough for all editors to ask their readers what is most important to them regarding their content. Whether you send out surveys or start up an editorial board of readers, they will have ideas for new content and ideas to improve your current content that will surprise you in ways you can’t imagine. Our readers are the backbone of why we all became journalists in the first place; let’s give them the ownership of our products that they deserve. 

What has been your proudest moment as an editor?

It is impossible to choose just one moment. The first time I felt filled with pride was when I saw one of our student reporter’s byline in print. She wrote a very well-put-together story about a basketball tournament, and I don’t think it would have been possible for me to be more proud of her.

Another great moment of pride for me was expanding our news coverage area. When I started with Cimarron Valley Communications, we covered five communities and five schools. Over the last three years, we have expanded our coverage to 18 communities, 14 school districts, and 12 high schools. All of these communities we now cover had fallen victim to being in a “news desert” and were not receiving coverage anywhere else. Seeing these previously forgotten communities take ownership of their community news has become a huge point of pride for me and everyone on our team.

Jodi Rudoren

Jodi Rudoren

Editor-in-Chief, The Forward, New York, NY

Education: Yale University, bachelor of arts degree

Number of years in news media: 31 years

What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire?

Stay curious and stay empathetic. Try things that seem hard — then try doing them a different way. Listen to your reporters. Encourage them to follow their curiosities — and follow the story where it takes them. When in doubt, do some more reporting.

Edit on the front end — conversations about framing a story and charting a reporting path are far more critical than tweaks to sentences. Follow up conversations with email or Slack. Make expectations clear. Trim with a scalpel. Explain changes, and be open to a third way. Manage each individual individually. 

Put the READER first — always. 

Act like a human being, not an editor. Because editors — and reporters and readers — are human beings. Be humble. 

What is the craziest or most exciting breaking news story you’ve put together with your team?

I was at the movies with my teenage twins — our first time in a theater since the pandemic — on the Saturday that a British Islamist took a rabbi and several congregants hostage at a synagogue in Texas. During a restroom break, I saw the urgent #Slack message from my new news director, who was about to post a news story he would spend the next 12 hours updating and sharpening.

I returned to the theater and texted some questions and directions under my coat. Soon our news editor and innovation editor were working the phones, finding stringers to deploy to the scene, sourcing OpEds, remaking our homepage, overhauling the Sunday morning newsletter and reporting out some details themselves. As Shabbat ended, our opinion editor — who was glamping in Connecticut— joined the fray, followed by our national editor — who had been on a long hike in Southern California — and then our editor-at-large in Minnesota, who connected through social media with several members of the synagogue and its cantorial soloist.

I was doing a little reporting, too, including interviewing people who knew the Texas rabbi for what became the first profile of him to be published. By the night’s end, virtually our entire staff was engaged, including a reporter who cut short his vacation in Denver to fly to Texas. Within a few days, we’d published two dozen articles on the hostage-taking, including a scoop that the rabbi was preparing to leave the congregation after the synagogue board refused to renew his contract.  

It was a horrible day in so many ways. But, it’s part of what we do this work for — to cover important stories in real-time and over their aftermaths, in partnership with talented and dedicated colleagues and to tell readers what they need to know.

Marty Sauerzopf

Marty Sauerzopf

Editor-in-Chief, City News Service, Los Angeles

Education: Arizona State University, bachelor of arts in journalism

Number of years in news media: 34 years

What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire?

I have always strived to foster collaborative relationships with reporters. I spent years in the trenches as a reporter and understand their difficulties and challenges. I’ve always tried to downplay the idea that reporters work “for” me, but instead, I want them to feel we’re working together on a story to deliver the best possible results for our media subscribers and readers. The most rewarding part of being a journalist is seeing your hard work pay off in print (or online) and its impact on the community. A good editor should work to ensure reporters never lose that satisfaction.

What do you look for when hiring a journalist for your team?

We are a regional wire service, and the best candidates are those who “get” what we do and recognize what’s required in a fast-paced, breaking-news environment. Our shop requires somebody with a strong work ethic — prepared to put in the hours and learn to write under intense deadline pressure, often while handling multiple stories simultaneously. It can be a daunting experience, but it comes with great rewards for those committed to the job and the challenge.

Tom Staik

Tom Staik

Managing Editor, The Herald-Advocate, Wauchula, FL

Education: Florida State University,

Number of years in news media: 22 years

What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire?

The greatest advice I have ever been given on this journey came from my grandmother, Connie Delaney, who owned and operated the weekly Lake Placid Journal for nearly six decades. “We serve” was her regular mantra. To serve the community, I have found it essential to be willing to treat every story with respect and as if it is the most important item to cross my desk on any given day. The waitress retiring after 45 years is just as important as the new beautification campaign by the Garden Club, a no-hitter pitched by a high school baseball team player or coverage of a politico caught shirking the public records law. Approaching every story — big or small — with that respect fosters truth and allows the pages of the paper to become a mirror to the community. 

How do you motivate yourself and your staff during challenging times?

There are certainly weeks where the news of the day (or the opinions of the readers of the news of the day) engender a hurricane of emotion. One of the mantras I share is to pause. When that angry phone call comes, when we cover the death of an infant or when another emailed threat is received — remember to pause.

Step two is to open the paper and find examples of who we have helped that week. Finding those positives helps change perspective, and suddenly a not-great day becomes a success.

I also encourage folks to have a happy place to escape for a few minutes to pause and redirect their thoughts. I have turned my office into a personal happy place — a shrine to all things Superman. When the tough moments come, I can simply close my door, open up a comic book and be transported for a few minutes into a world of truth, justice and a better tomorrow.

Julia Wallace (Photo by Anirudh Bhati Singh)

Julia Wallace

Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Washington, D.C.

Education: Yale University, bachelor of arts in literature

Number of years in news media: 13 years

What advice do you have for other young professionals aspiring to become an editor extraordinaire?

Editing requires double-mindedness. You must be fully committed to a story — making sure it's reported and written to the highest standard — while maintaining a sense of perspective and a healthy distance. You need to be able to put yourself into an outsider's mind, whether it's someone who might sue you, someone who might be hurt by what you publish or simply a reader. After all, an editor is also a kind of reader: the story’s first reader and, frankly, the most careful and obsessive reader it will ever have. When a reporter feels so much joy in the chase that they want to cram all their findings into a story, it's the editor’s job to advocate for what the reader needs: to be engaged, to understand what's on the page, and to know where the facts are coming from and why they matter.

Above all: Try to make every story you touch better, in some way, if not every way. And try not to mess it up!

You manage investigations across cultures and around the world. How do you keep your cool during difficult times or when dealing with stressful people or situations?

I always try to remember that other people live in their own worlds with their own priorities, goals and constraints, just like I do. The vast majority of them aren’t trying to be difficult; they’re just doing their best to meet their own needs — professional, personal or cultural — in their world, which might involve very different audience expectations or cultural norms around journalism. It’s my job to find areas where all our collaborators’ needs intersect and make them grow.

It’s also important to me never to lash out in anger, frustration or blame. Yelling makes a stressful situation more stressful and immediately dissolves any sense of fellow feeling between you and your team. And it’s just plain undignified. Things always run more smoothly when editors and project leaders can handle mistakes with equanimity and humor and reach for a solution rather than stewing over a problem.

Robin Blinder is E&P's editor-in-chief. She has been with E&P for three years. She can be reached at


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