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Saturday, August 16, 2008

AJC shuffles business desk & public editor

The first toe of the other shoe dropped Friday at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, when editor Julia Wallace announced a new business editor, a new business columnist and a new public editor, Talking Biz News reports.

In an internal memo, Wallace said Andre Jackson, who joined the AJC staff as an editorial writer earlier this year, will become the new business editor; Thomas Oliver, who'd most recently edited enterprise stories, will write a business column; and business reporter Matt Kempner will become public editor.

This is the leading edge of a staff reshuffling that's taking place now that 73 staff members have taken a downsizing buyout (not how the concurrent, mysterious departure of three high-level editors plays into the changes). Jackson apparently will do part of editor Kathy Brister, who'd overseen the business desk, and Oliver will attempt to replace the irreplaceable Maria Saporta. Most of these folks leave at the end of the month.

The most surprising part of Wallace's announcement was the public editor part.

As far as I knew, Angela Tuck was still the public editor, which is an odd sort of position at the AJC involving a PR-ish column extolling the virtues of the paper and taking up reader's complaints.

Tuck wasn't listed as one of the employees taking the paper's pending buyout (although four of the 73 names weren't made public), and she's still listed on the website as public editor. Obviously, that's not going to be the case anymore.

In an excerpt quoted by Talking Biz News, Wallace wrote (UPDATE: See full list here):

The public editor job changes into one focused on working with other departments at the company to build an ongoing and pro-active dialogue with readers about how we can constantly improve. Matt’s work on 2.0 [the paper's ongoing redesign project] and understanding of how other businesses connect and engage with their customers made him an ideal selection for this critical job.

Most of the buyouts take effect at the end of August so the changes are likely to be taking effect by then.

I'm at a meeting out of town, I haven't been able to do much reporting this week on the ongoing AJC. Please feel free to add what you know in the comments section.

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