The Wisconsin State Journal, Madison's sole remaining city print daily, is making significant internal changes, according to a memo obtained by Isthmus.
The memo, available below, is addressed to "colleagues" and announces both personnel and structural changes, including plans for further collaboration with The Capital Times, now a digital newspaper with two weekly print products. Both papers are owned and published by Capital Newspapers. The version of the memo obtained by Isthmus does not include the name of its author, but based on its content was likely written by either publisher Bill Johnston or new editor John Smalley.
Among the personnel changes:
Teryl Franklin, the paper's current city editor, has been named managing editor. The position has remained vacant since Tim Kelley left to head Capital Newspaper's website. Her direct reporting team will be: Steve Verburg (urban issues), Sandy Cullen (cops), Ed Treleven (courts); they will be assisted by Mike Miller, the Capital Times' longtime courts reporter.
Phil Brinkman, the current city editor, will serve as interim city editor while a search is launched for a permanent city editor. The memo does not indicate whether Brinkman is interested in or being considered for the position. Brinkman will directly supervise seven beat reporters: Jason Stein (state government), Mark Pitsch (ditto), Dee Hall (projects), Gina Kittner (suburbs), Dean Mosiman (city of Madison), and Matt DeFour (Dane County).
Beth Williams will move into the slot of assistant city editor, supervising a team of "enterprise" reporters: Doug Erickson (faith/values), Gayle Worland (K-12 education), Ron Seely (science/environment), David Wahlberg (health), Deborah Ziff (higher ed) and George Hesselberg (general assignment).
On the structural end, the memo promises "a flattening [of] the mid-level structure of the organization," with the goal of putting more "feet on the street, so to speak." In other words, there will be fewer editors and more front-line content creators.
Moreover, the undated memo says the organization is "within a week or so of rolling out a joint coverage plan for handling newsgathering and news posting to madison.com, a plan that involves significant contributions and shared efforts from both newsrooms." This will include consolidating the two paper's sports staffs "in strong new ways," as well as "a plan to better connect and present" arts coverage.
I'm very pleased and excited to report a plan for a reorganization of newsroom structure and resources in the State Journal. The reorg comes as a result of conversations with all of you, as well as my own observations and assessment of the strengths, challenges and opportunities in the newsroom as we move forward. A few "headlines" about the new structure, then a blow-by-blow of the details below.
-- Teryl Franklin has been appointed managing editor of the State Journal. Teryl's great skills and insight as a journalist and her determination and forthrightness to help us improve make her a perfect candidate for this important role. A few more details about her new responsibilities are below.
-- Phil Brinkman has been appointed interim city editor. Phil takes on another vital role for us. While we get our new structure up and running, we will eventually advertise within Lee and around the country for a permanent city editor. In the meantime, I'm pleased that Phil has agreed to lead the city desk on an interim basis. Phil brings great experience, proven news judgment and a steady hand that will be exceedingly helpful as we move ahead.
-- In general, we are flattening the mid-level structure of the organization, trying to put as many "feet on the street," so to speak, as we can. In short, we will have fewer editors and more front-line content creators. We all are very aware of the challenges to our staffing resources in recent times. Given those challenges, and the reductions in staff size, it is of utmost importance that we maximize every opportunity to create compelling, useful content and present it in creative and appealing ways. I believe our new structure will help us do that.
Two other points of related interest:
-- We continue to make great progress on our evolving role with the Capital Times for purposes of Web and print coverage. For example:
- We are within a week or so away from rolling out a joint coverage plan for handling newsgathering and news posting to madison.com, a plan that involves significant contributions and shared efforts from both newsrooms.
- As anyone reading our paper can tell, the collective sports staff resources in the building are being used together in strong new ways. That process will continue and be further enhanced in the days and weeks ahead.
- In a similar way, we are working on a plan to better connect and present our arts and entertainment coverage, both in the Thursday 77 Square section and our Sunday newspaper.
-- While I'm don't plan to call an "all-hands-on-deck" meeting in regard to the reorg plan, I am going to make myself available for conversation and questions today in a couple of informal sessions. I'll be hanging around the boardroom today from 12:30-1:30 (and probably eating lunch) and then again today from 5-5:45 or so (probably having my afternoon snack). Anyone who wants to stop by to talk, ask questions, etc., is more than welcome.
Meanwhile, here are the team-by-team and desk-by-desk details of the new structure:
EDITOR -- John Smalley's direct reports will be Teryl Franklin, managing editor; Dave Dombrowski, senior editor/presentation; Greg Sprout, senior editor/sports; Scott Milfred, opinion editor; Joanne Huntley, assistant to the publisher and editor.
MANAGING EDITOR -- Teryl Franklin takes on the managing editor position, with newsroom-wide oversight and responsibility. Teryl will have responsibility for planning our coverage in print and online. On an interim basis, she will also run a reporting team from the city desk. Her direct reports are Jason Adrians, night editor; Phil Brinkman, interim city editor; Tom Enwright, business editor; Chris Juzwik, features editor; Sarah Tews, photo editor; Laura Sparks, multimedia and graphics editor; Anju Ali, interactive editor.
Her reporting team, on an interim basis, will be:
Steve Verburg, urban issues
Sandy Cullen, cops
Ed Treleven, courts
That team will also be getting both Web and print help from Mike Miller of the Capital Times.
INTERIM CITY EDITOR -- Phil Brinkman will supervise the city desk on an interim basis and continue to run a reporting team. Phil will supervise assistant city editor Beth Williams. The other assistant city editor position will remain vacant during the interim period. I would expect the interim period to be in the 3-4 month range. Phil's reporting team will be:
Jason Stein, state govt
Mark Pitsch, state govt
Dee Hall, GA/projects
Gena Kittner, suburbs
Nick Heynen, GA-suburbs/data
Dean Moisman, city govt
Matt DeFour, county govt
ASSISTANT CITY EDITOR -- Beth Williams will run the enterprise team that will be:
Doug Erickson, faith-values/GA
Gayle Worland, K-12
Ron Seely, science/environment
David Wahlberg, health
Deb Ziff, higher ed
George Hesselberg, GA/video
BUSINESS EDITOR -- Tom Enwright will continue to supervise three business reporters -- Judy Newman, Marv Balousek and Karen Rivedal -- and also will direct Barry Adams, region; and Pat Simms, GA/military. Amy Geiger will also be a part of Tom's team.
DESIGN DESK -- Dave Dombrowski will supervise designers Julie Shirley, Jeanne Kolker, Jon Kleinow, Dean Witter and Lisa Cestkowski. Julie will maintain her role editing and producing the CRBJ and also will direct other special sections and niche products. Dave will continue to be the newsroom point person for space allocations and production.
NIGHT DESK -- Jason Adrians remains in the night editor role and is responsible for all news flow and page production in news and sports. Chris Drosner has been named assistant night editor and will serve as night editor in Jason's absence. Jason Kramer remains online editor/nights. Mike Rott is now Page 1 designer. Scott Tortamasi takes on a new "swing copy editor" role that will have him working in sports on some nights and on the news desk on other nights, depending on our overall workload and page flow needs. Other night desk roles remain unchanged.
FEATURES EDITOR -- Chris Juzwik will supervise assistant features editor Nicole Rogers and reporters Sandy Kallio, Tom Alesia, Melanie Conklin and Andrea Zani. Nicole will supervise columnist Doug Moe and reporter Chris Martell. Tom, and others in features, will be working very closely with our staff and the Cap Times newsroom as we work to better connect 77 Square with our Sunday entertainment section.
MULTIMEDIA/GRAPHICS EDITOR -- Laura Sparks will supervise graphic artists Jason Klein and Brent Bollenbach and reporter/videographer Ken Singletary.
PHOTO EDITOR -- Sarah Tews will supervise assistant photo editor Kyle McDaniel and photographers Craig Schreiner, Steve Apps and John Maniaci. Sarah and Kyle will also supervise the full-time and part-time imaging technicians.
SPORTS DESK -- Greg Sprout will supervise assistant sports editors Perry Hibner, Eric Anderson and Rob Hernandez. Working with Greg will be online sports editor Adam Mertz of the Capital Times. Adam will direct sports efforts for madison.com while Greg will continue to lead the sports efforts for the print WSJ, including integration of contributions from Cap Times sports writers.
OPINION -- Scott Milfred will continue to supervise Chuck Martin and Kris Crary.