Good riddance Ellen Belcher: DDN reshuffle

The Dayton Daily news finally brings intelligent leadership to the editorial pages by promoting Ron Rollins to run the section. No more political party hack bias from Belcher, or pontifications from Sir Martin Gottlieb.

Here is the official internal memo from managing editor Jana Collier:

From: Collier, Jana
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 6:27 PM

Subject: staff announcements

After more than 30 years at the Journal-Herald and Dayton Daily News, Ellen Belcher is leaving the paper. Ellen has been a model of integrity, a dedicated journalist, a tireless community advocate and a wonderful partner in leading the newsroom.

Her willingness to take on any person, regardless of their rank, has earned her a reputation as a fierce journalist. But her perfect professionalism and great ability to empathize has kept her approachable and human. She’s been an important part of our institutional makeup for three decades, and she’s also been a supportive friend. I will miss her greatly, and I know you will, too.

I want to also tell you that Ron Rollins has accepted a new role as associate editor, effective immediately. In this position he’ll lead an effort to create a new model for the editorial pages, a new way of generating community dialogue and propelling change on important issues throughout our coverage area. He’ll be responsible for all four daily editorial pages and is already digging in to understand what’s important in each community.

We all know Ron as a longtime newspaper writer and editor, but he’s also been active in numerous community organizations and efforts. He’ll use his experience as a journalist and community leader to help find solutions to local problems. He’s a Miami University graduate, has worked in the Dayton and Northern Cincinnati newsrooms and is currently serving as editor of the Northern Cincinnati papers.

You’ll hear more from Ron about his vision for the editorial pages in the next few weeks, and I’m sure he’ll be soliciting your feedback. The new editorial page launches on June 26.

Mike Williams, editorial page editor in the Northern Cincinnati Group, will join Ron’s new team. Martin Gottlieb, longtime editorial writer and columnist, will retire later this month. Production of the editorial page will move to the universal desk. Ron will also hire at least one other person to help with the content on the pages and other projects tied to improving the Miami Valley. This will be an internal hire, and Ron will post the position soon.

We will not be replacing Ron in NCG, and Edwina Blackwell Clark will assume the position of Editor and Publisher of the Northern Cincinnati newspapers and related websites.

We’ll plan a farewell party worthy of Ellen and Martin’s long tenure at the paper. If you have ideas on how to do that, please let me know. Ellen’s last day will be later this month.

Jana

When I ran my piece last week about this shakeup– I had called the new publisher for comment and was handed off to Ms. Collier. It was the most amicable and interesting conversation I’ve had with a DDN employee who was on the clock, with a promise that they were planning on doing more investigative journalism. Maybe this is the year that the DDN becomes a vibrant part of the community again, instead of a police blotter and bad news herald.

There are so many things that the DDn could choose to write about- one suggestion I made (again- last time was to Max Jennings) was to start running a weekly roundup of area patents (yes- we get enough in the community to do it weekly). We’ll see what other changes come down the pike.

I’ve known Ron Rollins for years- and have always been impressed by his willingness to get out in the community as “one of us”- talking with the community- instead of at us. Congratulations, Ron.

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