New editorial page editor at St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS – Tod Robberson, a Pulitzer Prize winning editorial writer for the Dallas Morning News, will become the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial page editor shortly after the first of the year. Post-Dispatch Editor Gilbert Bailon said Robberson would succeed Tony Messenger, the editorial page editor who moved into a columnist position a few months…

A teaching moment

COLUMBIA, Mo. – At the world’s oldest journalism school, the professors for the most part are long on academic credentials but short on in-the-trenches reporting experience. Still, the University of Missouri School of Journalism prides itself on offering “real world” opportunities for its budding journalists. It’s called “the Missouri method” which combines “a strong liberal…

Veteran, popular columnist Bill McClellan joins the latest Post-Dispatch Exodus

By TERRY GANEY / Since Lee Enterprises acquired Pulitzer, Inc. and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2005, there’s been a steady departure of well-paid, veteran professionals who over the years had made the newspaper one of the most valuable journalistic assets in the country. With hundreds of millions of dollars in debt from the acquisition, the burden of paying off the loans fell on the shoulders of employees at Lee’s 46 newspapers who faced layoffs, furloughs, frozen wages and the elimination of benefits. A quick way of cutting costs was to buyout senior journalists at the Post-Dispatch. The latest round taking effect today includes Bill McClellan, who for more than 30 years has been the newspaper’s popular, hardworking, four-day-a-week columnist. His work has been compared with Mark Twain’s. By itself, McClellan’s departure would be enough to shake the foundations at 900 North Tucker, the headquarters building Lee Enterprises wants to sell. But McClellan is not alone.

Missouri capitol reporters still trying to police their own

By TERRY GANEY / The reporters who make up the Missouri Capitol News Association recently came together to consider problems with one of the press corps’ members, the Missouri Times, a newly formed organ published by former Poplar Bluff Mayor Scott Faughn. The press group had put the Missouri Times on notice in late January. While one member of the press corps wanted to suspend the Missouri Times from the group, the vast majority agreed to give him more time to come up with a stronger written policy that separates the financial side of the Missouri Times from the reporters who cover the news.

Progress of the Beacon/KWMU merger

On one wall of the St. Louis Public Radio newsroom hangs an electronic sign resembling a large flat-screen television with colored graphs, charts and numbers telling the story of the station’s website. One recent summer afternoon, a visitor saw that 89 people were checking out the site to see what the news operation had to offer. Tim Eby, director and general manager of St. Louis Public Radio, said more people have visited the station’s website since it merged with the online startup the St. Louis Beacon six months ago. The number of listeners to KWMU, 90.7 FM, has remained about the same. While the news staff was roughly doubled to 21 and the Beacon as a brand disappeared, the combined operation remains a boutique for news consumers. Eby said the station has averaged about 120,000 unique visitors a month.

Post-Dispatch wins Scripps Howard award for Ferguson coverage

The Scripps Howard Foundation has awarded its first place national breaking news award for 2014 to the staff of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for coverage of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the chaotic events that followed. “A news organization is never tested more thoroughly than when a major story breaks in its backyard,” the contest judges said. “The Post-Dispatch was tested by a story that was fluid, emotional, important and not easily told with clarity and balance. It passed this test with textbook execution.”