'Indy Star' Top Business Editor Exits with a Blast at Gannett

By: Joe Strupp Apparently fed up with what she termed Gannett Co.'s tightened "grip on the paper," Vickie Elmer of The Indianapolis Star left her job Thursday afternoon as top editor of the business section.

In a frank memo, first posted on the Poynter Institute's Romenesko site, Elmer, 43, stated why she was leaving the paper's assistant managing editor/business post, which she has held since late 2003. Her reason: "[A] fundamental and philosophical disagreement with senior management over the direction, readership and staffing needs of the Business section. ... I leave hoping for the best for The Star, as Gannett tightens its grip on the paper and its people."

Elmer revealed she was leaving "at a time and in a way that my bosses have determined are best -- and I hope they will give their best, as I did, to the dozen members of my team."

She lamented that her departure had to occur with "much work undone and at least six jobs on the Business Desk unfilled, because of the five-plus month hiring freeze and other factors outside my control." She added that the paper's top managers wanted to "reinvent the Business section so it focuses on the business elite, managers, executives and opinion leaders. My vision has always been broader and more inclusive -- we provide stories that appeal to clerks and CEOs, college students, cafe owners and cleaning ladies."

Elmer, who could not be reached for comment, also tallied the section's successes under her guidance, including more front-page play and a "string" of exclusives.

According to her bio on the paper's Web site, "Ms. Elmer ... was hired to develop the Business section as a must-read with stories that have authority, creativity and broad appeal. The section focuses on the regional economy of Indiana, health and medical coverage and retail and consumer issues.

"She had spent seven years at Newsday in New York City and Long Island, editing weekend and enterprise business and workplace stories, developing coverage of New York City business and the rebuilding of the World Trade Center complex.

"She also helped Newsday develop and expand its Sunday Money & Careers section and its coverage of stories that appeal to women and 20-somethings".

Editor Dennis Ryerson and Publisher Barbara Henry could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.


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