American-Statesman picks new newsroom leaders


American-Statesman Publisher Patrick Dorsey has announced two leadership changes for the Statesman newsroom.

John Bridges, a 30-year veteran of the Statesman newsroom, was promoted from managing editor to executive editor, and Bill Church, the senior vice president for news for Statesman owner GateHouse Media, added Statesman editor-in-chief to his corporate responsibilities.

"Together, with Bill and John, we will build on our impressive legacy of doing journalism with impact," Dorsey said in a staff announcement. "I look forward to all the amazing things we can do with this strong leadership and our accomplished newsroom team."

The moves cap a year of leadership change at the Statesman. GateHouse Media completed its purchase of the newspaper and its websites in April in a $47.5 million deal from Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, and Dorsey was named publisher in September after the announcement of the departures of the Statesman's editor and publisher as part of a voluntary buyout offer.

Dorsey said the announcements signal GateHouse's commitment to quality journalism at the Statesman, telling newsroom staffers that Church and Bridges amounted to a "dream team."

Church has lived in Austin since 2016, guiding GateHouse's news strategy and its Austin-based Center for News & Design, which provides editing and design services for GateHouse newspapers nationwide. GateHouse completed its purchase of the Statesman last April.

Previously, Church was editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida, which won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting under his leadership.

"Having worked with Bill in Sarasota, I can attest to his devotion to editorial excellence," said Dorsey, who also oversees GateHouse's publications in Florida and Alabama as a regional vice president.

Church is former president of the national Associated Press Media Editors and a former Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard and has worked in newsrooms in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, New York, Oregon and Florida.

"I look forward to supporting John and the talented American-Statesman newsroom," Church said. "Central Texas is a market that spurs innovative opportunities to connect new audiences with Statesman Media."

Bridges has led the Statesman's news operations since the departure in September of Editor Debbie Hiott, recently named general manager of KUT radio.

He served as the paper's managing editor since 2011, a span that saw the Statesman win three Texas newspaper of the year awards.

"John has done an excellent job leading the newsroom through the acquisition and maintaining our commitment to high quality while pushing for positive change," Dorsey said. "His hard work and dedication to staff and strong community journalism is always at the forefront."

In addition to leading the day-to-day operations of the Statesman newsroom, Bridges will serve as regional editor for GateHouse, coordinating coverage among its Texas properties.

"I've grown up in the Statesman newsroom, and it's a privilege to lead such a talented staff," Bridges said. "I'm looking forward to working with Bill to build upon what we've already done here and to provide Austin with the strong accountability journalism that it deserves."

Bridges, a University of Texas graduate who has lived in Austin since 1984, rose through the editing ranks at the Statesman, where he first worked as a night news copy editor and later had stints leading the paper's copy desk, national coverage, metro staff and sports section. Bridges currently serves as president of Texas Associated Press Managing Editors.

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