Wednesday, June 5, 2013

R&B Resignation

Harry Montevideo, the longtime publisher of The Red & Black, has apparently resigned (Flagpole story).

[update, also on Poynter now]
[update, board statement]

Allow me to hijack my media blog to offer a few words.

I won't write a lot about Montevideo because, frankly, I've been a UGA journalism prof for 21 years and I don't think he's ever asked my advice about R&B plans and strategies.  That either makes him incredibly dumb or canny beyond belief.  After all, my expertise is in reporting, not managing a news operation, so other than to tell him the move from 5-days print to 1-day digital all at once is really truly marvelously stupid, I couldn't add much other than to tell him "I told you so" after the plan sent the paper stumbling into near irrelevancy.

There's no reason for me to recount Montevideo's history.  It'll be written elsewhere.  His leaving is an end of an era for the paper -- a creature he nurtured and nourished and helped grow into an award-winning operation with a really big building on Baxter Hill.  He deserves loads of credit for making the paper what it was, just as he deserves credit (along with a few of its kookier board members) for making the paper the lesser creature it is today.  His recent foolishness (wrestling a student to the ground, the walkout, the obscene salary, the mangled move from print to digital, trying to pick a fight with my department) all conspired to lead a fresher and more clearheaded board to a simple conclusion, that it was time for Montevideo to step down.

So give Montevideo credit for a job well done.  Yes, he was successful when it was easier to be successful, and yes he fumbled the job when times became tough, but the R&B is a nationally recognized student news organization and he deserves much of the credit.  Not all.  The students did the reporting, the editing, the shooting.  But give him credit nonetheless, and let's move on.

May we live in interesting times?  Grady College has a new incoming dean.  The Department of Journalism has an new incoming chair.  And now the student paper will have, after a search, a new incoming publisher.  It's a time for fresh starts all around.

It's an opportunity I hope that won't be wasted.

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