Leadership shakeup in Orlando; regional coverage to be extended

Tribune Publishing has shaken up the leadership of its Orlando Sentinel, replacing its editor/publisher and seeking a new managing editor.

Avido Khahaifa's editor/publisher job will be split between Julie Anderson, editor in chief of South Florida's Sun Sentinel, and Nancy Meyer, the Sun Sentinel's general manager and publisher. Anderson and Meyer, who both have senior experience at the Orlando Sentinel, will retain their previous job responsibilities at the Sun Sentinel, three hours south on Florida's Turnpike.

Tribune explained the management news as part of a new focus to unite and strengthen the newsrooms' coverage of regional politics, the environment and weather, and public health. The move comes as Florida is engaged in a statewide recount of its knotted governor's and Senate elections.

"Nancy and Julie’s strategic leadership will boost both Florida newsrooms to serve our Central and South Florida residents while raising our profile on statewide issues," Tribune Publishing president Tim Knight said. "Their records of innovation in digital media will help ensure we deliver high-quality journalism in new ways for our readers."

Anderson, who arrived in South Florida from Orlando amid the fallout from the mass shooting in Parkland in February, emphasized the opportunistic upgrading of political and environmental news. “We want to be more impactful in our journalism by combining forces,” Anderson told me between town meetings at the two newsrooms. She said she'll be splitting time between the two papers.

Julie Anderson
Julie Anderson

Orlando also will be hiring a new managing editor. The current managing editor, John Cutter, will take on a more of a regional role, Anderson said, directing news operations and standards, handling longer-term projects, internships and recruiting talent, as well as handing grants for long-term investigative projects. Cutter will also have an ombudsman role, in Orlando at first, Anderson said.

The newsrooms will be hiring two statewide editors and a public health writer on the regional topics. Orlando will be hiring an editorial writer/editor, who will report to Rosemary O'Hara of the Sun Sentinel, who will have regional responsibilities on editorials. 

The moves were planned before the parent company's announcement of a voluntary buyout last week, Anderson said.

Khahaifa has been a Tribune employee for more than three decades, rising at the Sun Sentinel and becoming editor of Orlando in 2013 and adding the publisher role in 2016.