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News-Leader names new top editor

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Amos Bridges has been promoted to the top editorial job at the Springfield News-Leader.

Currently watchdog content coach, he’s slated to succeed Cheryl Whitsitt, effective Dec. 23. Whitsitt, a News-Leader employee since 1987, is scheduled to exit tomorrow, according to a news release provided by Bridges. Whitsitt has led the newsroom since 2017.

Bridges deferred questions about Whitsitt’s exit to a public Facebook post she made earlier this week. She pointed to potential retirement plans, as well as changes brought about by the recently finalized $1.1 billion takeover of Gannett Co. Inc. by GateHouse Media Inc. When the deal closed last month, The Associated Press reported some $300 million in annual costs could be slashed, including potential duplication of management jobs. Gannett, which is the surviving company name through the merger deal, owns the News-Leader, USA Today and some 260 other daily papers.

“I’ve been here 32 years, and I turned 60 this year. While I love what I do, I was beginning to think about what could be next for me,” Whitsitt said in the post. “So that, coupled with Gannett and Gatehouse's recent merger (cost-cutting), led to this change. I might be leaving a little earlier than I expected, but I am doing it with benefits that will allow me to take a few months off to explore new possibilities.”

Her post also indicated the News-Leader’s editorial department is losing a full-time position. Whitsitt serves as news director, which Bridges said is the same role he’ll hold under the editor title.

“Stephen Herzog and Matt Peterson round out a very strong management team,” Whitsitt said of the News-Leader’s content coach and digital planning editor, respectively.

Including himself, Herzog and Peterson, Bridges will lead a News-Leader editorial staff comprising 17 employees, down from 18 with Whitsitt on board, according to the publication’s website.

Bridges said via email the News-Leader is waiting on potential operational changes in the region brought about by the GateHouse-Gannett deal.

“We’ve got a helluva team here and I’m excited by the possibilities,” he said. “There are lots of potential synergies in Missouri and it will be nice to have some company in the region.”

A Springfield native, Bridges’ journalism career in Springfield started in 2004 as an intern at the News-Leader, according to the release.

“He will lead a staff that is dedicated to telling important stories of the Ozarks, and I’m eager to see what they do in the months ahead,” said Rick Green, Midwest regional editor of the USA Today Network, in the release.

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