Just after noon today, in the midst of covering what is arguably the biggest story in the nation right now — the Parkland high-school shooting spree that left 17 students and teachers dead — writers and editors at the Sun Sentinel received an email with the vague subject line "Staffing Announcements in Southeast."
Sent by Tim Knight, president of the Broward County newspaper's absurdly named parent company, Tronc inc., the message didn't get to the big news until nearly the end: The Sun Sentinel's editor, Howard Saltz, was out. Almost no details were given, except that his departure was effective February 28 — only two days from now.
"We thank him for his contributions and wish him well," Knight wrote.
It was an unceremonious end to Saltz's seven-year reign at the paper (where I worked as a reporter from 2013 to 2016). In his time there, he was promoted to become both editor and publisher — a combination unheard-of for most newspapers, which traditionally keep a firm wall between advertising and editorial.
Saltz leaves with loud critics in the local media scene, including Politico reporter Marc Caputo, who called Saltz a "journalism cancer." Saltz, as Caputo had previously reported, had a reputation at the paper for "censoring controversial stories." That habit caused frustration among some reporters.
The cancer on Florida journalism known as @SunSentinel publisher & editor @howardsaltz has apparently been ousted— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) February 26, 2018
Saltz’s shame should be engraved on both his palms and his eventual tombstone
Three cheers for @tronc
Here’s part of his shameful legacy https://t.co/BJZB3fs6tO
A former Denver Post business editor, Saltz arrived at the then-downtown Fort Lauderdale offices of the Sun Sentinel in July 2011, almost a year after the retirement of editor in chief Earl Maucker. At the time, few on the paper's staff knew what New Times would repoty months later: Their new boss had left Denver at least $3 million in debt after losing properties to lenders and declaring bankruptcy.
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While Saltz was at the helm, the daily won its first Pulitzer, the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, for a brilliant investigation into speeding cops authored by Sally Kestin and John Maines. The two used SunPass data to show rampant — and often unpunished — speeding by South Florida law enforcement officers. But the paper also gave up its downtown Fort Lauderdale headquarters and moved into the Deerfield Beach building that houses its printing press, and saw a slew of newsroom buyouts and layoffs. The most recent layoffs came in December.
According to Knight's email, Saltz will be replaced as editor by Julie Anderson, senior vice president of content and business development at the Orlando Sentinel, the Sun Sentinel's sister paper.
Here's the full text of the email sent to Sun Sentinel staffers:
I want to share with you some leadership changes affecting our markets in the Southeast.
Nancy Meyer will rejoin the company on March 5 as General Manager, Southeast. Nancy will have direct oversight of our South Florida, Orlando and Newport News markets. She will be based in Ft. Lauderdale and will report to me.
Many of you may know Nancy from when she was previously with the company as Publisher of both The Hartford Courant and the Orlando Sentinel. Most recently, Nancy served as President of North Jersey Media Group, part of the USA Today Network. Nancy has a proven track record of revenue growth and a commitment to quality journalism that benefits the communities we serve.
We also are excited to announce the appointment of Julie Anderson as Editor-in-Chief of the Sun-Sentinel effective March 1. She will move to South Florida from Orlando, where she has been Senior Vice President of Content and Business Development for the Orlando Sentinel Media Group. Julie has been with the company since 1997 and has held many senior positions during her tenure. Howard Saltz will be leaving the company effective February 28, and we thank him for his contributions and wish him well.
Julie has been a leader in driving digital change and is very involved in assisting with the development of our newsroom transformation blueprint. She knows the South Florida market well and will help continue the Sun-Sentinel’s tradition of delivering excellent journalism to it residents.
Please join me in welcoming Nancy back to the company and congratulating Julie on her new role. I am excited to have each of them assume these important roles in our company.
All the best,