Houston Chronicle Editor Jeff Cohen Steps Down

Categories: Breaking News

Jeff Cohen steps down as editor of the Chron.
In an e-mailed message to the staff at the Houston Chronicle, and also announced online, Editor Jeff Cohen has announced he is stepping down as editor.

Cohen wrote that after ten years at the head of the daily, he will become Executive Vice President and Executive Editor, in charge of the publication's editorial and opinion pages.

Managing Editor Steve Proctor will head up the newsroom while a nationwide search is conducted for Cohen's successor, the Chron said.

Here's the message he sent out:

From: Cohen, Jeff Sent: Fri 9/21/2012 10:48 AM To: HC_Editorial Cc: Stephenson, Tom (HC); O'Loughlin, John T; Sweeney, Jack Subject: Change


It has been an enormous honor to work alongside each of you and to preside
over the Chronicle's newsroom for the last 10 years. Soon, however, I'll be
transitioning into an exciting new challenge, Executive Vice President and
Executive Editor, in charge of our editorial and opinion pages.

My recent anniversary in Houston, which also marked 23 years at the top of a
Hearst newspaper's masthead, was an opportunity to reevaluate my priorities
and to assess the best way to spend the next part of my career.

Our publisher, Tom Stephenson, and I have spent considerable time talking
about this over the last month. He urged me to consider making a move to
the opinion section in a job that would report directly to him. I accepted the challenge because this is a way to make a dramatic impact on the future
of Houston, my hometown. Tom and I have the shared goal of publishing daily
opinion pages that will have a lasting impact on the region's future. We will be at the center of all great discussions in our community.

Being your editor has been exhilarating. Any success this newspaper has enjoyed during my tenure is because of the teamwork in each quarter of the
newsroom. More than anything, I'll miss the afternoon news meeting, where I
marvel each day at the camaraderie and the work that rights wrongs, makes
this city better and the day more interesting. I'll continue to have a hand
in that. But the new job comes with something the old job didn't: more
hands-on time with words and ideas. It also allows me to work more closely
with my friend John Wilburn and the talented thinkers on the 10th floor.

Ten years is a good run on the front line at a media institution of this
size. But a new chief editor in the newsroom will bring about innovation
and an internal evaluation that will be better for the Chronicle and for our
audience. Before I begin my new duties, I'm going to take some time off for
travel and to reimagine what the opinion pages in print and online might

Steve Proctor will be in charge of day-to-day operations and Tom will keep
you posted on long-term plans. We'll start the dialog in a few minutes with
a huddle around the City Desk at 11 a.m.

I'll see you back here soon. Until then, thank you all for your dedication
to journalism, the Chronicle and your support for me.


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Stephenson, the publisher, didn't like Cohen, according to my source. I suppose the feeling was mutual, but I don't know about that. 

miss_msry topcommenter

Stepped down or kicked to the curb   How does it feel.


I was in the newsroom the day Cohen's appointment as editor was announced. He stood there with a bunch of smirking Hearst suits and spouted canned quotes from the news release announcing he was the new editor. Tony Pederson was kicked to the curb. I knew then that I would not be staying at the Chron much longer. It's sad the way they treat their people.


There is more to this story than the company line. This is a made-up job. John Wilburn already runs the editorial page.


"But the new job comes with something the old job didn't: more hands-on time with words and ideas."


That was all too apparent when you read one hot mess of a news story or feature after another in the Chronicle over the last decade. The implication there is that the editor has little to do with actually editing at the Chronicle. My feeling is that what few writers the Chron didn't release over the years, they paid so little that management didn't want to bother them with feedback, suggestions and (God forbid) directions on better structure, transition, adherence to inverse pyramidal order, etc. 


Cohen came to the Chronicle with impressive credentials at a time of significant transition and potential. He should've made a difference. He leaves (the editor's position) with, at best, an unsubstantial legacy. At worst, the publication got worse on his watch.


 @miss_msry Thanks for agreeing. But, be careful listening to too much Elliott Smith ; )


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