March 27, 2024

In a month that Gannett announced it is dropping its expensive Associated Press service, it has also parted company with three high-level news executives.

It was announced internally that Rachel Lobdell will leave the company and her position will be eliminated. She joined Gannett in May of last year and has been deputy to chief content officer Kristin Roberts.

Lobdell, a digital specialist, came to Gannett from a similar position at Fortune magazine, with earlier stops at Vice and The Wall Street Journal.

Senior director of news learning Cynthia Benjamin, who has spent her entire 36-year career at Gannett papers and corporate jobs, is also leaving. In a LinkedIn post, she said that she was contemplating retiring later this year but was told her last day would be April 1.

Roberts, who has been at Gannett for just over a year, declined a request for an interview about the changes. Chief communications officer Lark-Marie Antón said this should not be viewed as cutting back the news side of the company, Rather, Antón said, “Kristin is integrating teams and making strategic decisions to mitigate redundancies.”

A previously announced commitment to fill or add 800 editorial positions remains intact, Antón said.

In a third departure, Manny Garcia, executive editor of the Austin American-Statesman, resigned to become editor-in-chief of nonprofit startup Houston Landing. Besides holding one of the top big city editorships in the chain, Garcia had previously been editor of the Naples Daily News and an executive at Gannett corporate.

Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper company with more than 200 outlets, has experienced heavy turnover in its top ranks over the last 18 months. News president Maribel Perez Wadsworth left in November 2022, and a year later was named president and CEO of the Knight Foundation. Amalie Nash, who oversaw editorial at the regional papers, has joined the nonprofit National Trust for News.

In other Gannett top editor departures, Garcia’s boss at Houston Landing, CEO Peter Bhatia, came to that position from the Detroit Free Press. And, George Stanley, the longtime editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, retired in December 2022 and has since become CEO of the nonprofit Wisconsin Watch.

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Rick Edmonds is media business analyst for the Poynter Institute where he has done research and writing for the last fifteen years. His commentary on…
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