Editor Rowe leaving Oregonian; Bhatia to take over

December 8, 2009

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PORTLAND, Ore.—Oregonian Editor Sandra Mims Rowe announced Monday she is leaving the newspaper at year's end. Executive Editor Peter Bhatia was named her successor.

Rowe, 61, has been editor since 1993. Under her leadership, The Oregonian has won five Pulitzer Prizes and numerous other national awards.

"Sandy has made enormous contributions to The Oregonian and to Oregon," said Publisher N. Christian Anderson III. "Her strong leadership changed the face of The Oregonian, leading us to new levels of journalism and service to the region."

Rowe said she made her decision over the Thanksgiving weekend as she considered planned staff cuts.

"We have a slimmer organization," she said. "We need fewer people overseeing it."

Announcing that Bhatia would succeed her, Anderson said the new editor "will carry on strong leadership and commitment to outstanding journalism."

"His passion for and knowledge of Oregon and the metropolitan area are important qualities that will serve Oregonian readers well in the future," Anderson said.

Rowe hired Bhatia as managing editor in late 1993 and named him executive editor in 1997. Bhatia, 56, a Stanford University graduate, grew up in Pullman, Wash.

Rowe called the hiring and nurturing of talented people her most important achievement.

"It is the most lasting contribution I could have made to this newspaper and this community I love, and one I am more proud of than any number of honors or awards," she said.

"Even after deep newsroom cuts dictated by the brutal financial conditions of the recession, The Oregonian has a news staff of more than 200, substantially larger than any in the state," she added.

Rowe came to The Oregonian from The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Va., where she was editor for the last decade of her 22 years there. While at The Oregonian, she served as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and chairwoman of the Pulitzer Prizes Board, and was named Editor of The Year by the National Press Foundation in 2004. She and Bhatia together were named editors of the year by Editor & Publisher Magazine in 2008.

Bhatia previously was managing editor of The Sacramento Bee and executive editor of The Fresno Bee, and had worked at newspapers in Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.

He said he is "thrilled and humbled" to be succeeding Rowe.

Rowe said she and her husband, Gerard Rowe, will remain in Portland.

"I am retiring as a newspaper editor but not from involvement in leadership in other capacities that could contribute to the economic and educational vibrancy of this great state," she said. "First, though, I look forward to taking most of 2010 off to enjoy more time with my daughters and year-old granddaughter."


Information from: The Oregonian,