In what many reporters believe to be a troubling move, Sun-Sentinel Publisher Howard Greenberg announced to staff Thursday that the newspaper's Internet site -- including news content -- is being taken over by a marketing director, according to a memo that made its way to the Pulp.
"Vice President and Director of Marketing Jeff Levine will add responsibility for interactive content, audience development, new product development and media partnerships," Greenberg wrote in the memo. "He will also continue to lead our marketing efforts. His new title will be Vice President and Director of Marketing and Interactive."
Levine was a driving force behind the Sentinel's "Help Team" -- which emphasizes consumer-oriented news over traditional journalism (and has been mercilessly lampooned on the Pulp).
That basically means that any pretense that the website will be driven by actual journalism rather than promotion is gone. And, while reporters are concerned about the transition, it shouldn't come as a surprise: The Tribune-owned newspaper has made the merging the marketing and editorial sides of the newspaper one of its top priorities during the past few years. Editor & Publisher actually cited that as one reason for it giving Earl Maucker its Editor of the Year Award.
In yesterday's memo, Greenberg also announced the layoff of Sentinel general manager Kathy Skipper (formerly Kathy Trumbull), a long-time, well-liked boss, as a cost-cutting move. Full text of memo comes after the jump.
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December 13, 2007
TO: Sun-Sentinel Company Employees
FROM: Howard Greenberg
RE: Sun-Sentinel Interactive changes
I want to let you know about some changes taking place at Sun-Sentinel Company. As part of our ongoing efforts to control expenses in a challenging financial environment for our industry, I have had to make the very difficult decision of eliminating the sun-sentinel.com General Manager position.
Kathy Skipper, who has held a variety of key editorial and multimedia positions since first joining us in 1983, will be leaving the company. Kathy has been a key contributor to our success, including her leadership in Palm Beach County, and I hope you will join me in thanking her for her efforts, and wishing her well in her future endeavors.
As winning in the digital world remains at the center of our growth strategy, we have made the following organizational changes to make sure we continue to build this critically important part of our business.
Vice President and Director of Marketing Jeff Levine will add responsibility for interactive content, audience development, new product development and media partnerships. He will also continue to lead our marketing efforts. His new title will be Vice President and Director of Marketing and Interactive.
Vice President and Director of Advertising Ray Daley will take over direct responsibility for interactive advertising sales.
Jeff and Ray will work closely together to maximize revenue opportunities. Jeff, Ray, Sr. VP/Editor Earl Maucker and I will be focusing aggressively on developing existing and new products to better serve the needs of our customers.
Online Product Development Manager Bonnie Gross, Multimedia Operations Manager Don Mariutto and Assistant News Editor Multimedia Doug Phillips will report to Jeff, along with his current Marketing Direct Reports. The open Online Editor position will continue to have dual reporting responsibility to both Jeff and Earl. Interactive Sales Manager Todd Greeninger and his team will report to Ray.
We also believe that this new structure will more closely integrate our print and online resources and provide us with even more of a team approach to our interactive growth strategy. These changes are effective immediately. We will be further defining them in the coming weeks and will share more details as soon as they are available.