Media people

NPR's Marimow experiment over

Bill Marimow had been the editor of the Baltimore Sun and in 2004 was brought in to head National Public Radio's news operation, with the idea that he would give it a bit of print-side sensibility. In February he became VP of News. Turns out they didn't really want that. Marimow officially resigned as VP of News and will take up as NPR's ombudsman. Today's Washington Post reports that Marimow, a protege of former L.A. Times editor John Carroll, had clashed with head of programming Jay Kernis, his boss. The staff memos that follow list some editor changes; Cinny Kennard remains in place at NPR West:

To: NPR Staff
From: Jay Kernis
Date: October 13, 2006>br> Re: Changes in News Leadership
This morning, we are announcing some changes within NPR News. First, let me share with you that Bill Marimow has resigned as Vice President for News, effective immediately, and will assume the job of NPR Ombudsman. While a note from Bill follows this memo, let me say that we all appreciate the contribution he has made to our news division – first as Managing Editor and more recently as Vice President. Bill leaves a newsroom that is stronger in its investigations, research and daily reporting. Bill’s skills also make him a great fit for the Ombudsman role, which demands an appreciation for powerful journalism and how NPR delivers it day in, day out. I’m pleased that he will continue to offer us all advice and guidance. Moving forward, we have three critical goals for the next few months: to quickly but thoughtfully fill the VP position, maintain continuity in the division and advance our news growth projects, including creation of the digital newsroom and the continual improvement of our radio programming. I believe we have put together a solid transition plan to achieve these. First, we will be posting the VP position immediately and have retained Sucherman Consulting Group to identify a broad, diverse pool of national candidates. Sucherman is the leading national search firm for broadcast media senior journalism executives and has worked with all the major news organizations. I am bringing the Sucherman executives leading this search to NPR sometime next week and setting up informational meetings for them with a cross-section of news staff to help fine-tune their understanding of the qualities we’re seeking. Also, we have put in place a very strong interim news management team, and we are confident that they will not just maintain stability but move the division forward. As part of this effort, we have crafted a new interim structure for this group that creates separate managing editor teams for news coverage and for shows/newscasts. The key appointments are: Ellen Weiss will serve as Acting Vice President, with full authority for the operations of the division. David Sweeney will assume her former position, National Desk Editor, on an interim basis. Barbara Rehm will be Acting Senior Managing Editor for news coverage. She will be working with an Acting Assistant Managing Editor to be named shortly. Barbara will also serve as back-up to Ellen in leading the team. We are creating a new Managing Editor position to supervise shows and newscasts. Joining us in that role on a temporary basis will be Richard Harris, who spent nine years as senior producer of “Nightline” and “This Week” at ABC, but is equally well-known around NPR for his eight years at “All Things Considered,” advancing from production assistant to executive producer. Working with Richard as Assistant Managing Editor for shows and newscasts is Audrey Wynn, who already holds a similar position. Additionally, we are naming J.J. Sutherland as Acting Managing Editor for Digital Media. Filling this position, which has been posted and for which we have been interviewing, will help us drive the convergent newsroom concept closer to reality. He will be working with Peggy Girshman, who was named last week as Managing Editor of the overall Newsroom of the Future project. Cinny Kennard will continue to provide the important leadership for our news and program activities generating at NPR West. These people will work closely with our skilled senior news managers, and both Ken Stern and I have committed to taking an active, visible role in all these efforts. Of course, while this is a smart, effective and cohesive team, our hope is that this interim arrangement is as brief as possible. We will be working thoughtfully but rapidly to create a diverse, qualified applicant pool for the VP position, with the help of Sucherman and the guidance of an internal search committee. We know this opening is going to attract a high calibre of news executives and we are excited about starting the recruitment process. I appreciate your support, both to this transition plan and to the team that is leading it for us, and know you will also welcome Bill to the critical role of NPR Ombudsman. *** To: NPR Staff
From: Bill Marimow
Date: October 13, 2006
First and foremost, I want to thank all of you for introducing me to and educating me in the world of radio and the world of NPR. It's been a revelation and an inspiration. A revelation because I've learned about the beauty and the impact of the world of sound on the human heart and mind; an inspiration, because the work you do makes NPR a bastion of great journalism in a world in which great journalism is in short supply. Working at NPR, in my opinion, is a privilege. For the last two and a half years, I've worked hard to contribute to our news organization. We made some significant progress -- creating new beats, adding muscle to existing beats, expanding the news division's contribution to and producing a steady stream of solid investigative projects. There's a lot more, of course, to be accomplished by my successor. For now, Ellen Weiss is a great colleague, an outstanding journalist and the world’s foremost team player. The news division will be in great hands. I'm looking forward to taking over the ombudsman's post and have the opportunity of being our audience's guide and representative to our remarkable journalistic enterprise. I'm also looking forward to working with all of you, albeit in a different role. Please make sure to stop by – you’ll find the door open. Thanks very much.

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