El Nuevo Herald's jefe is abandoning the city he recently described as "the candy store of American journalism" for a town world-famous for, uh, being the seat of Collier County.
Nuevo executive editor Manny Garcia told the newsroom yesterday he's leaving to take the top job at the Naples Daily News.
In a memo first reported by Random Pixels, Herald publisher David Landsberg told the newsroom that Garcia was set to leave after 23 years with the company.
An El Nuevo story later confirmed his departure was to take over at the Scripps-owned Daily News on Florida's Gulf Coast.
Garcia really has been one of the Herald's stars for more than two decades. As a reporter, he worked on several of the paper's Pulitzer-winning group efforts. Since taking over as Nuevo's top boss in 2009, he's helped the paper take a lead on several big political stories, including the David Rivera scandal and the absentee-ballot fraud epidemic.
New Times top dog Chuck Strouse, a former colleague of Garcia's at the Herald, says the paper is losing one of its best shoe-leather reporters.
"Manny has hustled more than any reporter or editor in the history of the Miami Herald, minus maybe the legendary Gene Miller," Strouse says. "His departure is a huge loss, not just for the Herald but also for Miami."
When Riptide spoke to Garcia at 1 Herald Plaza's big going-away party before the newsroom decamped to Doral, he talked up the unique thrills of running a daily in America's craziest media market while remembering last year's face-eating incident near the MacArthur Causeway.
"I don't think the editors at the New York Times sit at the page-one meetings talking about a naked guy eating someone's face," he said. "It is those Miami moments that I remember the most. This city is the candy store of American journalism."
So why leave that excitement for Naples, a metro area of about 300,000 souls stuck at the other end of Alligator Alley?
This is all he had to say to Nuevo (translated from Spanish): "This has been an extremely difficult decision, because directing El Nuevo Herald has been the most satisfying experience in my 23-year career at Miami Herald Company."
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Riptide left Garcia a message asking him to elaborate. We'll update this post if we hear back.
Here's Landsberg's full memo, via Random Pixels:
From: Landsberg, David
Date: Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:05 PM
Subject: Manny Garcia
After 23 years at the Miami Herald Media Company, Manny Garcia has accepted an Editor opportunity at an organization soon to be announced.
It is going to be difficult to say goodbye to Manny after all his good work at MHMC. Manny's stories over the years have helped change Florida law, led to the arrest of public officials and helped free a wrongfully convicted man serving a life sentence for a murder he did not commit. Manny's work has led to Pulitzer Prizes and other national distinctions.
Manny's career began as a clerk/reporter where he got paid $35 for his first byline. He worked as a Neighbors writer, moved on to the City Desk, where he covered courts, cops, Miami City Hall and worked on the Investigative Team. As a manager, he was Metro Editor and then Senior News Editor - his last post before joining El Nuevo Herald.
In ENH, under his leadership, ENH's reporting team, along with the Miami Herald, was named a Pulitzer finalist in breaking news. ENH was the first ever Spanish language newspaper to receive this honor. Manny's cross-divisional work has helped boost circulation, generate incremental revenue and exponentially grow digital traffic. ENH just launched Caliente which has had a solid premier and is growing.
Manny has been friend, mentor and champion to many. Please join me in wishing him well. Manny's last day will be 10/18.
With Manny's departure, we are looking to fill the position of Editor of El Nuevo Herald. The editor is responsible for establishing direction and goals for El Nuevo Herald and is an ambassador in our community. Posting to follow.