Friday, January 25, 2008

Breaking: Top editor Bushee quits Gannett

The money-losing San Francisco Chronicle just announced that Arizona Republic Editor Ward Bushee (left) will be its new top editor. "Ward brings a wealth of news experience and journalistic vision to the Chronicle team," Chronicle Publisher Frank Vega, a former long-time Gannett executive, said in a statement. "He has long been recognized as an editor who instills strong journalistic values, integrity and sense of community at the newspapers he leads."

Bushee, 58, is coming to one of the nation's most challenging newspaper markets. Northern California has become Ground Zero for many of the technology trends hurting papers. On a percentage basis, the 365,234-circulation (daily) Chronicle has lost more subscribers in recent years than virtually any other U.S. paper. Plus, it lost up to $100 million in 2007 alone -- leading to speculation that it might be the first major U.S. paper to go Web-only.

Separately, the Republic announced that Executive Editor Randy Lovely, 43, (left) will replace Bushee. The Republic is Gannett's biggest-circulation paper after USA Today.

Bushee is one of the most honored and most influential editors in Gannett. But much of his success is tied to his long-time patron, Sue Clark-Johnson, the Newspaper Division president who recently announced plans to retire in May. What's more, the Republic -- once a star in the Gannett constellation -- has lately been a drag on revenue because of the collapse of real estate prices in Phoenix. I suspect as well that a big chunk of Bushee's compensation has been in Gannett stock options that are now worthless, another reason to leave GCI.

Bushee has been with Gannett 21 years, Chronicle owner Hearst noted. He was named Editor of the Year three times and 11 times won the company's President’s Ring, awarded to outstanding top editors. Under his leadership, Hearst says, the Reno Gazette-Journal and The Arizona Republic respectively were honored with Newspaper of the Year awards.

Republic staffers: Use this link to e-mail feedback and tips. See Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

[Photos: Bushee, Gannett; Lovely, Republic]


  1. Wow. Bushee was arguably the brightest star in Gannett outside McLean. Interesting that they let him walk.

  2. Oh please. As a victim of Bushee's lack of leadership and kowtowing to Sue Clark Johnson, I say good riddance. He is a visionless Gannettoid, and it is shocking that Hearst somehow thinks that Bushee can save the Chronicle and/or cure its financial woes. I pity the staff there.
    As for his successor, Randy Lovely, well, he is another Sue Clark lackey. He destroyed statewide coverage with his "local news initiative" a fews years back, and has championed some of the least talented people at The Republic. The note that went out to staff prominently mentioned his Native American heritage. So, typical Gannett, it just wants to brag that it has a "minority" in a top post. And Lovely's Native American background is a tiny portion, to say the least. The Republic is on a total downhill slide and nothing can stop it.

  3. Do you know who will be replacing Randy Lovely?

  4. Smart money is there will not be a replacement, at least for now. Which will save beaucoups bucks. BUT, if there is a replacement, the sure bet is M.E. for features and innovation Nicole Carroll. Another true Gannettoid, who will do anything she is told, and who is a mistress of obsequiousness. Get on her bad side at your peril.


    PHX, Cinci, ROC .. what's the freakin' diff?

    As Lennon/McCartney wrote, love = love. Customers care about GCI products about as much as GCI understands and cares about customers. GCI has been hoisted on its own petard.

  6. Jim, could you post the IP addresses of the last four commenters, or at least tell us if they are all the same?

  7. I'm not sure I can access those IP addresses.

  8. Well, here we go: another journalistic wonder cloaking him/herself in anonymity so he can smear a couple of the finest men and top professionals in their game. For the record: We may not know anonymous' name, but it would appear to be someone whose sense of journalism got stuck in the 70s and just can't get out of it. Someone who probably had filed or has been filing acres of desert dreck without giving a damn about readers and resents the focus that Ward, Randy and editors like Nicole brought to a newsroom that was in sore need of discipline, professionalism and audience awareness.
    Ward is a native Californian and wanted to to get back home eventually, so it's not a matter of Gannett letting him walk. The guy's given over two decades of dedicated service to the organization, living in such hell holes as Ohio.
    "Statewide coverage" in anonymous' opinion is akin to roaming around and writing whenever and whatever one feels like with no regard for readers.
    Ward did more in a day for The Republic than these malcontented morons did in their entire sorry career at the paper.

  9. Clearly, Chet (if that is your real name), you don't work at the Republic. I don't either, but I know many who do or did, and I susbscribe. The quality of the paper has suffered in the past couple of years, and many, many, many people have left, newbies and veterans alike, out of frustration, not because of a lack of talent. I believe in newspapers and always have enjoyed reading them since I was a kid and did a project for the Boys Club in my hometown. But it is very disappointing to leaf through the Republic on a daily basis. There is no real news in the paper, it is directionless. And the top people have to take the blame. Also, compared with the last presidential election, the political coverage is very disappointing to me. I am relying on the New York Times for that.

  10. Wow. A lot of strong feelings on this one. The truth of the matter is somewhere between the extremes.

    Ward did oversee the closing of the Republic's out state bureaus. But no one lost their job when the bureaus closed. The southern AZ office was closed when the reporter quit to go to another paper. The reporter in the northern AZ bureau was offered, and accepted, a position on the business desk when that office was closed.

    Ward may have been one of Gannett's best and brightest, but that says more about the sad state of affairs in Gannett than it does about Ward. He is decent person. But he's not a muckraking journalist. He never has been. In Cincy he smoothed feathers after the Chiquita snafu. In Phoenix, he made sure the political elite was never disturbed. He's a bureaucrat, a corporate functionary, who implements mandates but doesn't generate many ideas.

    As far as discipline in the newsroom. I suppose he brought some. And Stalin brought discipline to those unruly Russians.

    Finally, Ohio a hell hole? I know some Buckeyes who would disagree. Especially when it's 115 degrees in Phoenix.

  11. I'm a Republic alum. Left during Julia Wallace's reign of terror. The paper's been circling the drain for years now.

    Last time I was in Phoenix, I was shocked to see the state of it. Directionless and pointless. And very thin. Mr. Pulliam is no doubt spinning in his grave.

    Isn't Sue Clark-Johnson retiring? Maybe that played into Bushee's exit too.


    Point about Mr. B taken.

    Two prevalent strains of Gannettoids -- "bad cop" to crudely brow-beat all into the mediocre and hopelessly lost. "Good cop" to comfort the survivors to keep the level of mediocrity, well, mediocre.

    Want to defend mediocre products? Go ahead. The public has voted with its feet.

    All the rah-rah meetings and bad cops in the world can't make customers to buy mediocrity. They're too smart.

  13. Hello. Is there a newsroom anywhere owned by anybody (corporate or family) in this country right now that isn't seeing demoralized staff, smaller newshole and a sense of "circling the drain?" You can throw blame around all you want, but media life as we knew it is over. Sure, it is sad that nobody writes great longform, investigative stories anymore. Just as it is sad that only a small elite reads them. Folks should be seriously thinking about what they're sticking around for. For those who decide to stay there's a lot of thinking and hard work to be done to stay relevant in a changing world. Any thoughts on what's working?


    " .. Any thoughts on what's working?"

    IMHO -- in a perfect world, the new Gannettoid editor(s) would be REQUIRED to pass an exam about the local community (including figures, streets, events, finances) that they are carpet-bagging in.

    Oh .. that would eliminate 95% of them?

    Never mind.

    Back to square one. Sorry. Have some more rah-rah meetings, and crudely abuse some locals. That ought to sell some ads.

  15. Well I can't say anything about Ward Bushee. Never met the man. As for Randy Lovely, I can honestly say he is one of the best bosses I've ever had in the newspaper business.

    He was my first boss out of college in fact, at the News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla. I left Fort Myers for a different job and came back after two years when Randy called to offer me a promotion (basically his old job), and I nearly worked for him again in Shreveport, La. when I came very close to accepting a position he offered me there.

    I'm not certain if the anonymous poster has ever worked for Randy, but my experiences with him have been nothing but positive, and I would work for him again in a heartbeat.

    I have in fact, talked on several occasions with the Arizona Republic about one position or another over the last few years, but timing has never seemed to work out either for me or for them, but I see Randy leading that paper as a HUGE check mark in the positive column.

    I should say that I have not worked for Gannett for a number of years now, and while I may not have agreed with all of their policies or ideas, I always had great respect for Randy.

    I say congratulations to him and to the Republic.

  16. Another senior manger leaves the Republic (Greiwe, senior VP/Advertising). Coincidence or smart?

    And, will the head of Gannett's Media West operation (Clark-Johnson's husband) be retiring too? Regardless, with her going, will publishers be able to negotiate better rates or will they have to continue sending large sums of money to his group?

  17. Wasn't Clark-Johnson's husband's job eliminated several months ago?


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.