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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   December 1999  issue

Philosophical Differences   

After more than two years as executive editor of the Binghamton, New York, Press & Sun-Bulletin, Martha M. Staffens is suddenly out of the job.


By Carol Guensburg & Lori Robertson
Carol Guensburg (carol.guensburg@verizon.net) is senior editor for the Journalism Center on Children & Families, a University of Maryland professional program - and a nonprofit. It receives primary support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Guensburg spent 14 years as an editor and reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after working for three other papers.      Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      


After more than two years as executive editor of the Binghamton, New York, , Martha M. Steffens is suddenly out of the job. Citing "philosophical differences" with Publisher William V. Monopoli , Steffens, who joined the Gannett paper four years ago as managing editor, says she's plotting her next move in journalism. Shortly after her early November departure, she said "the phone hasn't stopped ringing" with "well-wishers and the like." Monopoli would only say that Steffens, previously an editor with the Dayton Daily News for three years, was no longer with the paper. Dennis Anderson , metro editor under Steffens until September, when he was named managing editor of the Norwich Bulletin in Connecticut, said upon hearing the news, he was "shocked, as most other people were." He says Steffens "was very close to the staff, and she was very good to work with." Steffens also serves on the advisory board of the Pew Center for Civic Journalism. The center's executive director, Jan Schaffer , calls her "quite a dynamo." Her departure, "like that of a lot of other top female editors in recent months, is a real call to attention for the industry," Schaffer says. ( M.J. Smith left her spot as managing editor of the Honolulu Advertiser , for example, and Teresa Wasson left the editorship at the Pensacola News Journal . And add the Tallahassee Democrat 's Lorraine Branham to the list--see third item here.) "I think," Schaffer adds, "the profession has to do a lot better job in bridging the cultural divide between women editors and what are often traditional and male publishers."