Two years ago, Editor John Bartosek stood before his employees at the Palm Beach Post and warned of the impending bloodbath of layoffs and buyouts. Now, after slashing more than 300 jobs at the paper, Bartosek is leaving too.
"JBart," as he is known in the newsroom, has accepted a job as editor of PolitiFact Florida, a joint web venture of the St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald that fact-checks politician's statements. This would be little more than an inside-baseball move for the daily newspaper world, except for the messiness of JBart's recent history at the Post.
A 24-year veteran of the paper, he served four years as its top editor during the boom years, when sports reporters regularly flew off to cover the Olympics and rented SUVs to cover hurricanes.
But two years ago, as the layoffs began, JBart's stock took a nose dive. Publisher Doug
Franklin moved JBart's office at the paper's West Palm Beach headquarters from the powerful fourth floor, where all the corporate execs are housed, to the second floor, near the newsroom.
Then last year, in one of many management shake-ups, JBart was demoted to investigations editor. This was like asking Gen. David Petraeus to oversee a small platoon of ground troops in Pakistan.
JBart was replaced at the top by Tim Burke, who became editor and then publisher of the Post. Meanwhile, JBart's byline rarely appeared in the incredibly shrinking daily paper, which hardly has enough remaining staffers to cover Delray Beach City Hall much less launch major corruption investigations.
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Last week, insiders say JBart tacked a note on the newsroom bulletin board informing colleagues of his departure. No one could muster much surprise.
When contacted by New Times, JBart wasn't eager to discuss the massive changes during his tenure at the Post. In an email, he focused on his new gig at PolitiFact.
"The political fact-checking site is great, and I look forward to starting this month," he wrote.
No word yet on whether the Post has found a new investigations editor.