George Rodrigue Stepping Down As Plain Dealer Editor-In-Chief

Plain Dealer Editor-In-Chief George Rodrigue
Plain Dealer Editor-In-Chief George Rodrigue has been a frequent guest of The Sound of Ideas as a member of the weekly roundtable. [ideastream]
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George Rodrigue will step down as editor-in-chief of the Plain Dealer next month. Rodrigue will transition to work at the paper’s sister company, Advance Local.

Rodrigue will step down March 1, according to his column on cleveland.com. He’ll be replaced by the paper’s current managing editor, Tim Warsinskey, who has worked at the Plain Dealer for 30 years.

“If there’s any consolation in my departure, it is that the newsroom is in excellent hands,” Rodrigue wrote.

During Rodrigue’s five-year tenure at the paper, the Plain Dealer embarked on new projects to bring coverage to the community, Rodrigue wrote, including a regional journalism collaborative. But it also saw the editing and layout work outsourced to a central location managed by Advance, bringing staffing cuts and layoffs.

 “Over the past several years, our subscribers have seen a lot of change, driven largely by the industry’s economic circumstances. Changes to our price, our delivery system, design, and staff,” Rodrigue wrote. “Amidst all that, there was one consistent bright spot: The increasingly close collaboration between our newsroom and our community.”

While there has been tension between the Guild and management because of the outsourcing, Rodrigue helped the paper to grow under his leadership, said Ginger Christ, Vice Chair of the PD News Guild.

“He’s definitely helped our newsroom in terms of enterprise reporting. He moved us into solutions journalism, he’s expanded our cultural coverage,” Christ said. “We’ve definitely seen some strides there.”

But the change brings the paper into an unsteady space, she said.

“We’re seeing one person leave, another person move up and potentially not having that position filled, so we might have one fewer leader in our newsroom,” Christ said. “That worries us a bit.”

Guild members hope to maintain a good working relationship with Warsinskey, Christ said, particularly since he has been with the paper for decades. The Plain Dealer staff remains committed to covering the community, Christ said.

“We’ve gone through a lot here but all of us who remain are really committed to the community and to telling those stories,” she said. “We’re going to keep fighting for the community and for our ability to keep covering those stories.”

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