Mercury News executive editor
headed to top job in Cleveland

Former Merc executive editor David Yarnold and outgoing executive editor Susan Goldberg in the newsroom after the extra edition was published on Sept. 11, 2001. (Mercury News archives)

Susan Goldberg
will leave the San Jose Mercury News to become editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, replacing Doug Clifton who's retiring this week. The announcement will happen in both newsrooms today, The Blog has learned.

The Blog reports that Goldberg will take over in Cleveland on May 29.

Carole Leigh Hutton will be the new executive editor in San Jose, publisher George Riggs told the staff at an 11 a.m. newsroom gathering, which coincided with a meeting in Ohio where the Plain Dealer's staff learned that Goldberg would be their new editor.

Hutton had been vice president of community newspapers for the California Newspaper Partnership, which publishes the Mercury News. She's a former editor and publisher of the Detroit Free Press. Hutton assumes her duties May 21, one week from today.

Goldberg has been executive editor of the Mercury News since 2003 when she took the helm from the well-respected David Yarnold, and before that was the paper's managing editor, a position she accepted in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom.

Goldberg was right at the storytelling center of the most vibrant part of the American economy when she started -- and also presided over the newsroom when the bubble burst, watching as much of the core advertising for the newspaper dried up almost overnight. The woman knows how to manage through both good and bad.

Goldberg has been a champion of bold visual journalism since her arrival at the Merc, which was already known as a good design paper.

Under her watch, though, the Merc has been judged a World's Best-Designed Newspaper by SND and placed among the top winners in the Society's annual creative competition for the last seven years. And the photography staff has become a leader in multimedia storytelling, taking top honors from both the National Press Photographers Association and Pictures of the Year International.

Goldberg was also a significant supporter of SND's annual workshop and exhibition, which was held in San Jose in 2004 and hosted by the Mercury News. Many SND-ers met her there and were delighted to find her attending sessions and participating at a level few top editors had before.

From her early days as a reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to her work for the Detroit Free Press covering the Michigan statehouse, Goldberg established herself as a tenacious reporter. The Michigan State alum is, by all colleague accounts, an amazingly talented journalist who has a creative spark few can match.

During her first tour of duty at the Merc, Goldberg was instrumental in directing the Pulitzer Prize winning coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

She has also helped direct two Pulitzer finalists since her return to the Merc, one in investigative reporting and the other in feature photography (for the California recall election).

Goldberg spent the longest stretch of her career at USA Today, where in 10 years she served as deputy managing editor in three areas: projects and investigations, features, and news. It was after those stints that she returned to the Mercury News as its first female managing editor and, subsequently, as the first woman to hold the title of executive editor.

To say that The Blog will miss The Boss at the day job is a huge understatement. She's an inspirational force, a smart change agent, a terrific conceptual thinker, one of our closest friends and the best darn editor we have ever had the privilege to work with. We wish her the best, of course, but 750 Ridder Park Drive just won't be the same without her.

Shake 'em up in Cleveland, Susan!

Read the Plain Dealer story here.
Read Editor and Publisher's story here.
Read the Mercury News story here.

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Anonymous Merc alumn Bonita Burton said...

Astounding news. I don't know Carole Leigh, but working for Susan was a pleasure every day. Intelligent, aggressive, enormously creative. Cleveland's in for a real treat.

Monday, May 14, 2007 2:56:00 PM  
Anonymous martin gee said...

oh mah gawd... i feel like i just got kicked in the stomach. you said it all matt and bo. she totally "gets it." wow. i'm just stunned. congrats susan! *shakes fist at cleveland* =)

Monday, May 14, 2007 3:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bad move for the Merc, but what do you expect from a Lean Dean publication?

Hutton was the editor at the Detroit Free Press during the Mitch Albom blowup two years ago, when he wrote a column "from" the Final Four but he wrote it two days before the actual event.

And somehow Albom kept his job.

So, Hutton will fit right in with the "high" journalistic qualities of MediaNews/Singleton.

Monday, May 14, 2007 3:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Plain Dealerite David Kordalski said...

We are thrilled that Susan is taking the helm. On a day that we're saying goodbye to Doug Clifton, an editor who helped us hold a high bar for visual journalism — to get the news of a hire of this caliber ... well, let's say emotional rollercoaster isn't too cliche to describe it.

Good things ahead, to be sure.

Monday, May 14, 2007 3:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There aren't too many people in journalism smarter than Susan. She's no dope--the writing on the Singleton bathroom stall told her to get the heck out of Dodge.

She knew when it was time to leave USA Today (Jack Kelley anyone?) and when it was time to leave San Jose. As the previous poster said, a tough loss for the Merc and a savvy save for Susan. And a great coup for the Plain Dealer. You guys are getting one amazingly talented editor.

It would be a miracle for the Merc under Sherman--er, Singleton--to ever regain the position it once had under KR. What a shame

Monday, May 14, 2007 4:12:00 PM  
Blogger ashley.dinges said...

Unbelievable, I'm still in shock after reading the blog this afternoon.

Susan is an amazingly talented editor and boss and I feel privileged to have worked under her even as an intern.

Cleveland is so very lucky to have her!

Monday, May 14, 2007 5:29:00 PM  
Blogger Scott Goldman said...

Susan was not only an extraordinary editor at the Merc, but a champion of visual journalism and SND. She was incredibly giving of her time and energy during SND/San Jose, and very supportive of her staff's efforts during that hectic year.
We wish Susan nothing but the best in Cleveland!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 10:00:00 AM  
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