Deployement of troops at the Star

Dateline: Mon 17 Sep 2007

This memo from Dennis Ryerson and Pam Fine to the Star staff about the latest musical chairs maneuver is worth sharing (even tho Jen Wagner already posted it on Taking Down Words). Short commentary follows:

"To the staff:

"After a review of several aspects of the Information Center operations and how our staff is deployed, we are making several changes to the community conversation and community newspaper areas of our operation.

"Effective Oct. 1, the following changes will take place:

"-- Several aspects of our community conversations operation will be moving back to the opinion pages. This will free Jim Herman to take on another assignment, helping to bolster our North bureau operations as editor of the Fishers Star and Indy Star North.

"Jim is a Northside resident, has great community newspaper experience, and will work with our community newspaper team to make continued improvements in newspapers that quickly have generated great acceptance in the communities they serve. Jim also will serve other key roles, such as coordinating the function of our reader advisory council and serving on the state APME board. He also will assist in community outreach of the north bureau. Tim Swarens will once again lead our opinion pages, expanding their community conversation role and ensuring that The Star continues its strong community leadership voice, while ensuring a two-way conversation with readers and online users. Jane Lichtenburg will continue to work Star Watch and some aspects of IndyTalk, but also will help with the Sunday Voices section of the opinion pages.

"-- To help us with experienced beat reporting, veteran Star staffer Dan McFeely will be returning to the Public Service staff. Dan's knowledge of the metro area and his ability to work in a wide variety of assignments will help us continue strong metro coverage.

"-- Kevin Morgan will be moving south, leading our South Bureau and Indy Star South and The Greenwood Star, in that highly competitive area of metro Indy. Paula Freund will be joining our Public Service desk as a team leader.

"-- Gregg Montgomery will become community news editor. Gregg has worked in our North bureau, playing a key role in the introduction of The Carmel Star and before that, serving a leadership role at the Noblesville Ledger. As you recall, he also was South bureau leader. He will coordinate daily community coverage, and help ensure a seamless integration of that coverage with the core newspaper.

"-- Also, we'll be posting the higher education reporting job with a preferred candidate.

Dennis and Pam"

Hmmmm. What the memo fails to mention is the new role Tom Jekel, formerly of the Topics and the Noblesville Ledger, will play: I'm hearing he's going to be the bean-counter for the bureaus, keeping them all on a tight financial leash while pushing them mercilessly....well, no more so than any other G-man editor, since it's more about the mandate from on high than it is any particular personality.

The two stars in these shifting sands are longtime 'toids, Jim Herman and Jekel, who formerly was with Gannett in Lansing, Michigan. It may look like a demotion for Herman, but it's really a cut for the editorial pages -- while many of us welcome Tim Swarens thoughtful, careful analysis, methinks he'll be forced to simply facilitate "community conversations" and more talk/talk, yak yak. Oy vey.

Herman is a nice guy who rolls with the 'toid punches; he's been thru the wringer before and knows how to come out fine every time.

What I really wonder is how the bureaus are faring...as someone suggested on Wagner's blog, it seems like using community sourcing for investigative journalism is pretty much a bust.

As for the jobs posted, I'm told some are listed on Poynter, which makes them seem "real," but everyone who reads this blog knows it's the same old ruse: just because you give someone a nifty title does not mean that person won't be shoveling the same old b.s.

So it goes.

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