McClatchy’s Deb Leithauser will become publisher of Pennsylvania paper

Centre Daily Times

Debra Leithauser will leave her job as editor of McClatchy-Tribune Information Services to become publisher of the McClatchy-owned Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa. She joined McClatchy in 2012 after a long hitch at The Washington Post.

McClatchy Vice President for News/Washington Editor Anders Gyllenhaal tells staffers in an email that Wes Albers will become deputy editor of the news service, which is absorbing the clients of Scripps’ wire service.

In a note to staff, Leithauser said the move “was not something I anticipated.”

But being a publisher has always been a dream of mine, so when the opportunity presented itself, I had to take it. The Centre Daily Times is a terrific paper, the job lets me stay with the McClatchy Company, and State College is a wonderful place to raise kids — all of those things equaled an opportunity to good to pass up.

Gyllenhaal’s memo:

Debra Leithauser, who has been editor of McClatchy-Tribune Information Services the past two years, will become the publisher of the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., shortly after the first of the year.
Debra has brought so much energy, innovation and direction to MCT at a time when we’re shaping the wire service for the future. On the one hand, we all hate to see her move on from MCT. On the other, we recognize what a good match she will be for a McClatchy publisher role.
On Jan. 1, Wes Albers will be named deputy editor, overseeing MCT’s day-to-day editorial operations. Wendy Zang, Rapier Copeland and Harry Walker will report to Wes. We’re grateful to have such a strong leadership team in place. Debra will continue to help oversee MCT operations and work on the larger business initiatives with Wes during this transition. She will spend time regularly at MCT, returning at least monthly, as we work on a permanent leadership structure.
We’ll have a staff meeting this morning at 11:15 a.m. eastern to talk through the transition and answer any questions. Debra is in State College this morning for this announcement and will be back tomorrow morning. For those away from the office who want to call into this session, and for staff in Los Angeles and elsewhere, the call number will be 712-432-0140. Code: 902231#. We’ll also have a MCT staff meeting tomorrow at 3 p.m. eastern, for those unable to make today’s call.
Debra had worked as a reporter, copy editor, designer, magazine editor, and design director in two decades at the Orlando Sentinel and The Washington Post when she took over the MCT editor position in the spring of 2012. It was her second stop at the wire service, where she worked for five years as an editor and managing editor.
Debra will begin her new assignment on Jan. 13. She will replace State College Publisher Susan Leath, who has taken the publisher’s position in Wilmington, Del.
Wes brings extensive experience at MCT and has overseen a long list of projects and initiatives. He joined the wire service in 1992 and has been a director since 2000. He began running multiple departments last year, when he became director of the News Service and the Graphics Service. Wes worked at The Miami Herald for 14 years.
Please join me in congratulating both Debra and Wes on their new roles.

Here is the company release that will go out shortly:

DEBRA LEITHAUSER NAMED PUBLISHER OF THE CENTRE DAILY TIMES
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 11, 2013 – The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI) today named Debra Leithauser as president and publisher of the Centre Daily Times in central Pennsylvania.

Leithauser has been the top editor at McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT) since May 2012. MCT is the Washington, D.C.-based wire service operated jointly by The McClatchy Company and the Tribune Company of Chicago with some 1,200 clients worldwide.

Leithauser, 43, begins work at the Centre Daily Times Jan. 13. She succeeds Susan Leath, who left the paper in October.

Prior to joining MCT, Leithauser spent nearly a decade as an editor at The Washington Post, overseeing a variety of print and digital content. She was editor of the Post’s online GoingOutGuide and the print entertainment section Weekend. She previously served as editor of The Washington Post Magazine, published on Sundays.

“Debra is a dynamic, energetic and savvy leader who is a wonderful match for an ambitious paper serving a vibrant university community in State College,” said Pat Talamantes, McClatchy’s president and CEO. “Debra’s digital experience and news values will serve the paper and the community equally well.”

At MCT, Leithauser overhauled the wire service to meet the increasing digital needs of client newsrooms, including offering interactive graphics, videos and photo galleries. She redesigned the MCT website (www.mctdirect.com) for improved speed and user experience, increased client communications and led MCT’s recent acquisition of the Scripps Howard News Service. Since June, she has co-chaired a McClatchy-wide initiative to enhance and expand the company’s product development efforts.

“Debra’s commitment to high-quality journalism is obvious and evident throughout her career and aligns perfectly with McClatchy’s core values,” said Bob Weil, McClatchy vice president, operations, who oversees the Centre Daily Times and 13 other newspapers and their affiliated operations. “But Debra has also acquired a wealth of business strategy and experience along the way, particularly in the digital arena. I believe advertisers and the local business community will discover a tremendous asset in Debra.”

Leithauser was born into a military family and raised primarily in Hawaii and Florida. She graduated from the University of Florida with honors and a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

She began her journalism career at the Orlando Sentinel, where she worked as a copy editor, reporter and editor. She directed the paper’s weekly teen section for three years before becoming assistant editor for its Sunday magazine.

In 1998, Leithauser moved for the first time to the MCT wire service, then known as Knight Ridder-Tribune Information Services or KRT. She spent five years there before moving to The Washington Post in 2003 to help the paper launch a venture aimed at attracting younger readers. She rejoined MCT in 2012 as its top executive, and will continue oversight of the news service in 2014 until a permanent leadership structure is in place.

“I’m excited to join the ranks of the Centre Daily Times, a paper that does such a solid job serving its readers and advertisers,” Leithauser said. “I believe there’s the potential to do even more in the community and to expand its digital products. I look forward to working with such a strong team.”

Leithauser and her husband, Tom, have two sons, Luke, 10, and Zack, 5.

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