Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chris Peck Reveals Retirement as Editor of The Commercial Appeal

Parent Scripps chain announces 90-day replacement search; Louis Graham to serve as interim editor.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 5:33 PM

click to enlarge Chris Peck (l); Louis Graham
  • Chris Peck (l); Louis Graham
Chris Peck, editor of The Commercial Appeal, announced his retirement Thursday afternoon in a meeting with the newspaper’s newsroom staff.

The unexpected development was also reported, more or less simultaneously, on the newspaper’s website, where Mizell Stewart II, identified as vice president of content for Scripps newspapers, the CA’s parent company, announced that current CA managing editor Louis Graham will serve as interim editor of the newspaper.

Stewart said that Scripps would initiate an immediate national search for a successor to Peck from both inside and outside the Scr8ipps organization and would hope to select someone within 90 days. Stewart added that Peck would continue to contribute to The CA’s editorial pages.

The 62-year-old Peck came to the CA in 2002 to replace the retiring Angus McEachran. Peck had been the editor of The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, and had held the Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

At the Thursday afternoon session with the CA newsroom staff, Peck had, according to the paper’s online article, made the following statement:

"I've had a great run, at a great newspaper in a great news town. But I think it is time to explore some other parts of life after 40 years as an editor. I don't have a grand plan. I'm going to recharge my batteries for now and think about the next great adventure. I'm proud of this staff and the great journalism we've done these last 10 years. I wish this newsroom nothing but the best in the years ahead."

The CA article announcing Peck’s retirement summed up his tenure as being one of accomplishment, during which “The Commercial Appeal delivered award-winning investigative, enterprise and visual journalism efforts. The newsroom aggressively championed freedom of information and the public’s right to know.”

Peck was at the helm of the CA during a time of rapid transitions in the paper’s format, its statement of mission, and in the size and purposing of its staff, which was periodically reduced. His editorship came at a time when the CA, like other newspapers, became actively involved in seeking new ways, as Peck would put it, of “monetizing content.”

As recently as this past week, the CA had announced a fundamental change in its policy regarding online readership, restricting access to all its articles to paid subscribers.

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