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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   March 1999  issue

A New Ohio Player   

Troubled Cincinnati Enquirer gets a new chief.


By Shanteé C. Woodards
     


It's not as if Ward H. Bushee III was restless in Reno. He was, he says, ``very content and happy" at the 67,000-circulation Reno Gazette-Journal , where he had served as the top editor since 1990.
But when Cincinnati Enquirer Publisher Harry M. Whipple called and offered him the editorship of the larger Ohio daily, he didn't hesitate to make the leap. The Enquirer, Bushee says, is a paper with ``a great staff and a great future."
And a troubled past. Last June the Enquirer retracted its explosive series of articles on Chiquita Brands International Inc. and agreed to pay the company in excess of $10 million because one of its reporters had illegally listened to Chiquita voice mail messages.
Bushee, 50, succeeds Lawrence K. Beaupre , who left the paper in November for a news executive position with Gannett, which owns both the Enquirer and the Gazette-Journal.
The new Enquirer chief said he was concentrating in the early days of his tenure on getting to know the staff. He revealed few details about his plans for the 200,000-circulation paper, beyond expressing a determination to ratchet up the quality of its weekend report.
Whipple describes Bushee, who assumed his new position January 13, as ``one of the leading editors in the company," adding that Bushee possesses a ``track record that few have."
Bushee, a native Californian, admits he didn't have an early interest in journalism despite the fact that he ``grew up in a newspaper family." His father worked at California's Watsonville Register-Pajaronian for 40 years, and Bushee did part-time work at the paper. He studied history at San Diego State University, then found that his family's journalism connection ``provided an avenue" for a post-college career.
He worked at various Golden State papers and at USA Today before arriving in Nevada in 1990. Two years later, he was named Gannett Editor of the Year.
Moving up to executive editor in Reno is Tonia Cunning , who had been the Gazette-Journal's managing editor.
At the Enquirer, there's little doubt that the scars from the Chiquita debacle run deep. But Bushee doesn't plan to dwell on the past. The answer, he says, is to ``focus on the future" and ``get on with putting out a good newspaper."