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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   May 1999  issue

Knighted and Riddered   

San Jose Mercury News Editor Jerry Ceppos goes corporate.


By Lori Robertson
Lori Robertson (robertson.lori@gmail.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.      


It's a good thing for Jerry Ceppos that Knight Ridder moved its corporate offices from Miami to San Jose last year: It means the Mercury News ' executive editor and senior vice president won't have to change the commute much for his new job. He becomes vice president/news for his paper's parent company, a sudden move for a contented editor. "I agonized a lot," he says. "I really had a perfect job and the perfect staff and a very close relationship with [Mercury News Chairman and Publisher] Jay Harris ." After almost nine years at the Miami Herald , Ceppos, 52, moved to San Jose in 1981 as the Merc's associate editor, jumping to managing editor two years later and to executive editor in 1995. He says the main deciding factor was Knight Ridder Chairman and CEO Tony Ridder 's description of the post as "a journalism job." He will aid editors and publishers of Knight Ridder's 31 dailies in developing editorial goals and standards. The recipient of a 1997 National Ethics in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Ceppos cites a distinct interest in accuracy and fairness but says, "I think there's a real range of issues... where I can be helpful." In a press release, Ridder, a former Merc publisher, said Ceppos "has done a great deal to improve the Mercury News journalistically--particularly in the coverage of high tech." Ceppos' appointment, in which he fills a formerly two-person role, is at the middle of a chain of dominoes. Vice President/News Clark Hoyt moves back to Washington, D.C., to become Washington editor. He had served as Washington bureau chief for six years before going corporate in 1993. In the newly designed post, Hoyt will oversee the D.C. bureau and the Knight Ridder/Tribune wire service. The bureau's news editor, Kathleen Carroll , moves up to the bureau chief spot, succeeding Gary Blonston , who died April 4. She will report to Hoyt. The other corporate vp/news, Marty Claus , plans to look for a new opportunity but remains in her current job until the end of the year. Back at the Mercury News, Managing Editor David Yarnold , 46, fills the executive editor vacancy, a move Ceppos says he "strongly recommended." This marks the first time since perhaps elementary school, Ceppos says, "when I haven't had a newspaper to cling to." But, at least for the time being, he adds, Yarnold has agreed "I could bug him a lot about things in the Mercury News."