No. 2 USAT editor Wilson leaving for NPR digital

Updated at 12:06 p.m. ET, Sept 25. USA Today Executive Editor Kinsey Wilson is joining National Public Radio, as senior vice president and general manager of digital media, top Editor Ken Paulson told staff in a memo moments ago. “Kinsey has been a driving force and advocate for change throughout his years here,” Paulson’s memo says, “in both his initial role as editor-in-chief of USATODAY.com and in his current position as executive editor of all of our news operations. We’re very sorry to lose his talents, but he’s moving to an important and challenging new role with NPR.”

Wilson had been one of two executive editors since December 2005, when he joined John Hillkirk in that role amid a merger of the online and print newsrooms at the Gannett flagship.

Earlier: Does USAT’s Web/print tension exist at your shop?

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36 Responses to “No. 2 USAT editor Wilson leaving for NPR digital”

  1. Jim Hopkins Says:

    I must have missed an earlier change; Paulson says Kinsey was in charge of “all our news operations.” What happened to Hillkirk?

  2. Jim Hopkins Says:

    He also could be jumping ship to get something good: I like the sound of that NPR digital gig. It won’t pay what he was likely earning at USAT. But I’ll bet a lot of that USAT pay is now worthless stock options, don’t you think?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I know my pay is pretty darn good, even with the worthless options. I get paid for producing, and I do. I’m just sayin’.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    The victim and architect of a failed newsroom merger.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    And so the anonymous cheap shots begin.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I’m thrilled! The door can’t hit him in the ass too soon.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Anyone else note he wasn’t replaced, so expect this to mark a thinning out of USAT executive ranks. About time, IMHO. Also expect a very disappointing Q3 to prompt across-the-board changes. I cannot confirm this myself, but I hear from a friend the economic crunch has caused advertising to stop abruptly this week. GCI does not need the credit markets itself, but its clients certainly do.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Kinsey is damn smart. USAT will miss him big time.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I left USAT as he was hired in 2000. How was he as a leader at online, and then later after the merger? My only point of reference on him over the years has been at ONA and other industry events, and he seemed to know what he was doing. I guess I’m wondering if he was pushed/eased out.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    He for certain was not pushed out. This is a huge loss for the newsroom, both for his vision and for his expertise.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Being smart and being a good leader are sometimes two different things. And being a good leader to all or most is different than being a good leader to some. I don’t know the man, so I am not making any judgments on him. Just noting that the most intelligent guy or gal in the room isn’t always the one who should be steering the ship. Sometimes other qualities are more important, particularly in tough times.

    As for what this means to the future of the paper/web site, it would seem reasonable to think something else is coming (who knows what) or that something wasn’t happening fast enough for Mr. Wilson. Could be that he just went for the bucks, but I find that top dogs tend to leave organizations for reasons that go beyond money, particularly when they don’t even move out of the area. What those reasons might be will be the topic of much discussion in the newsroom, I am sure. Anyone have any clues to what motivated this?

  12. Anonymous Says:

    8:58 your speculation with zero knowledge is annoying. why bother posting this crap? sometimes people get a great offer and move on….period.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    10:28 Why do you bother reading comments in a blog if you can’t handle what seems like rather mild speculation — actually, more inquiry and observation than speculation — in which the author openly admits to not knowing KW or being that close to the situation? Is your knowledge or explanation of why KW is leaving any more valid or based on fact? Is he leaving just to leave, as you speculated? Or is it that you just can’t handle anyone speculating about anything and just want everyone to shut up? I mean, this is a pretty big and unexpected loss, right? People wonder. If you can’t handle it, why bother coming here since 90 percent of what is here is inquiry and speculation? You’re the one that seems to defy logic. You don’t like something, but you expose yourself to it anyway.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    LOL. Must laugh. There is always a 10:28 in the crowd!

    Here is another annoyance for ya… I am wondering if Kinsey will be replaced, and if not, doesn’t that say something? Can we wonder about that 10:28? Or do we have to be Kinsey’s best friend to comment on why the No.2 man might be leaving and if he will be replaced?

    A brief memo doesn’t really satisfy my curiosity about this. The newsroom was buzzin’ about this. Doesn’t surprise me that the blog is also drawing some comments.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Maybe this means the newspaper isn’t quite dead yet!

  16. Anonymous Says:

    I think not replacing Kinsey Wilson would say far more than his leaving. But I don’t know that that is what is going to happen, so I suppose I am just another lowlife with zero knowledge. Boy, 10:28 must be boiling…hehe.

    Furthermore, I totally agree with 8:58 that big cheeses don’t walk away from big jobs just because someone waved a tad more money a cozier office in front of them. Everyone assumed this dude was the future. From watching him in action, it appeared he thought he was the future. So walking away does raise some questions.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Guys like that want control. Gannett rarely entrusts anyone with the entire show. Gannett is a committee-driven organization. No different at USAT. Plus, how many top editors does one news brand need? I hope this is the start of a trend of making USAT less top heavy. I hope a few more big bosses resign and aren’t replaced. Maybe we can hire back some of the staffers who actually did the work that sells the brand and pays the bills. We don’t need any more editors. We need content.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    NPR is a real snoozer, so even if he took a salary cut, he’s moving to an operation that doesn’t require any heavy lifting. NPR also overflowing with cash, thanks to trusts that fund it. It’s a good place to sit out for a while and look for something else. I would love to hear his version of how the addled management of USAT really works, but I am afraid I know the answers.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    All right, I am not in the news department so don’t assault me for zero knowledge, but I do work for USA Today. I am not sure who this guy is, but what is the big deal? Aren’t there others who can pick up the slack? The higher ups sure have no problem asking people in my department to do more when someone leaves and is not replaced.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    I too don’t think this is a simple situation. Yes, people leave for better opportunities. But why was he looking in the first place? That’s a big question for those still here.

    And don’t we have a right to feel betrayed a bit, after all the selling of change that he did but didn’t stick around to see it through?

    One could argue that he helped get us into quite a mess with the sloppy merger. The paper is weaker and the web site isn’t where it needs to be despite quite a few resources being thrown into it.

    I have no doubt he’s a smart guy, but do have many doubts about what he’s actually leaving behind.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve had enough bosses tell me they’re in it for the long haul, only to jump ship the next day. Wilson is no different. He got a good gig, I assume. Maybe NPR is a nice place with more financial security. But I know one thing about big bosses. They got big because they are ambitious and have no real loyalties to anything or anyone. That’s why I have to almost laugh when some boss gives a big speech about this or that, and their vision of the future, and pie in the sky plans, and how we all have to suck it up, move forward. All the while, they are planning their escape. It gets hard to take these people at the top very seriously. Hard to get behind their causes. They give these rah-rah speeches, dismantle things, then leave us holding the bag.

  22. Jim Hopkins Says:

    7:44 pm wrote: “Anyone else note he wasn’t replaced, so expect this to mark a thinning out of USAT executive ranks.”

    But is it certain he won’t be replaced? KB’s memo didn’t address that. Maybe this happened so fast, KB and Moon didn’t have time to decide what to do with this suddenly open position?

    If they decide to fill it, who do you think would get the job; seems like it should be someone with a strong digital background, right?

  23. Anonymous Says:

    He just got put in charge of the whole digital wing of NPR. That seems like a pretty significant promotion to me, and it also means he can now skip dealing with a whole pile of Gannett corporate silliness (although NPR has its own sort of nonsense).

    Next out the door, unless USAT finds a replacement who brings real muscle and insight to the table, and quickly: A whole wave of creative people who can work elsewhere, but worked here because of Wilson.

    They’re going to scatter and it’s going to be hard to find replacements (if USA TODAY even bothers to do that). I know there are probably haters here who gleefully cackle at that possibility, but trust me: You’re going to wish these people stayed.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    I hope he isn’t replaced by Chet or Sam Meddis….what a joke.

  25. Jim Hopkins Says:

    9 am: Of your possible reasons, this one makes the most sense to me: “he felt constrained by the Gannett system.”

    By that, I mean GCI’s unwillingness to invest significant additional money in its digital properties: I’m talking the hundreds and hundreds of millions needed to refashion the company into a truly digital enterprise.

    NPR, on the other hand, has loads of loot to invest. When she died, McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc willed $200 million to the non-profit — and that was back when $200 million was real money.

    USA Today and the rest of Gannett, on the other hand, are disinvesting and dismantling. Plus, in a climate where few staffers feel any job security, no one wants to take the risks required to truly innovate.

    When I took a buyout from USA Today, I told my editor this: Gannett is no longer investing in its future, so why should I continue investing my future in Gannett?

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Oh, my…I hope USAT isn’t thinking Chet can replace Kinsey! Frankly, it’s amazing he has gotten as far as he has. I have to agree with 8:14 in that Chet isn’t the sharpest guy around. And I don’t even mean that as a cheap shot, though people who like him personally might not be able to objectively see his, uhhhhh, professional shortcomings.

    8:14 also mentioned Sam as being a possible replacement. I know very little about him, so I won’t comment on his qualifications, other than to say that USAT should probably look outside for a replacement. Seems the digital operation needs a fresh perspective.

    5:08 makes an interesting point, about other creative types might now scatter. Heck, some might follow Kinsey to NPR. While no organization likes to lose smart people, I think USAT could actually benefit by somewhat of a turnover on the digital side.

  27. Anonymous Says:

    Digital side—print side—this side and that side. Why would anyone want to work in a company that’s declared war on itself?

  28. Anonymous Says:

    Kinsey was hardly the sharpest tool in the box, but I wish him well. Someone from another USAT department said Kinsey was unknown elsewhere in the company. He was just as unknown in the newsroom.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Why exactly are we throwing a party for this guy? I understand this is a much more selfish, less loyal society as a whole, but let’s just shake hands and say adios to Kinsey. If he has a small posse of peeps he’s close to, they can go have drinks or whatever. I find that few in the newsroom had any interaction with him. I don’t think the company should spend a dime on throwing a farewell for a guy like this, who jumps ship after telling us all about what the future was going to look like at USAT. He didn’t leave the merger in good shape. The paper is journalistically diminished. The second and third in commands under him are not ready for prime time. He apparently confided in no one, as this caught even his closest associates by surprise. In a top position like that, he owed us more. We got nothing. So, thanks, and goodbye. No hard feelings, but please, no corporate parties to honor him.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    These USAT bosses keep telling us to get onboard, but they are the first ones to jump ship! My boss last year was all pumped up and trying to get me to buy in to things I knew made no sense, and I suspected he knew made no sense. Yet, he continued the sales job on me and others. What happened? Out of nowhere, he took the buyout and left several of us dangling.

  31. Anonymous Says:

    2:06. I suspect Kinsey’s leaving has more than a few “dangling.” We’re on our own. This is becoming a very transient newspaper. Don’t expect these top leaders to do anything other than take care of themselves.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    You know, these these anonymous potshots at Chet and Sam are really low-rent and cowardly. Are you so powerless at your job or in your life that ridiculing colleagues at a blog is the only way you can feel important?

    Chet and Sam are two of the linchpins of the online site. They keep the trains running, they are fierce defenders of online sensibilities and needs, and they have a vision that is rare in the still print-oriewnted newsroom.

    They deserve way better than attacks from someone hiding at his or her desk.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    Apparently some people disagree, 2:38. Is it a “potshot” to simply express an opinion that Chet or Sam fall short in terms of being the best in the biz? That’s fine that they keep the trains running, and maybe even take care of some of their favorite people, perhaps like you, but many of us don’t see them as anything more than average managers. I think we need more than mediocrity at the top right now. We need real inspirational editors who can reach out to more than just the people in their little cliques.

    As for the anonymous stuff. I noticed your post was also anonymous, which is almost kind of funny in that you knock other people for remaining nameless. Most everyone who comments here chooses to remain anonymous because we work in an environment that doesn’t allow people to come forward. Has nothing to do with being a coward or wanting to feel important, as you suggest.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    To some of those who are bickering: Wow, folks. We are proving what a divided newsroom we have. You wouldn’t notice it too much just walking through the place, as everyone seems to be somewhat polite, even happy. But something is simmering and it doesn’t appear to be getting any better. The divisions don’t just seem to be online vs. print. Maybe Kinsey is leaving because he’s tired of working in a place filled with some very angry people.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    I am not on the digital “side” nor do I work for Chet or Sam.

    I just think it is one thing to attack executives, another thing to attack hard-working — VERY hard working — colleagues in such a public, and possibly career-damaging way.

    What’s next? An anonymous post from a newsroom that so-and-so doesn’t cover his beat?

    One good rule of thumb for online discussions is if you wouldn’t stand up in a public meeting and say the same thing, why is it OK to attack someone by name here?

    It descends to a level of petty and mean-spiritedness to start saying who is or isn’t qualified to do something. If someone gets a big job, then sure, have an opinion.

    But to belittle people who have done nothing but work as hard as they can — which believe it or not is a lot of people in any news room — just is low-rent stuff.

  36. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Thanks, everyone! This seems like a peachy-keen time to take a break in this discussion!

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