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Major Media Shakeup

Big changes at the Houston Chronicle: New out-of-state editor brought in to lead the paper

There are big changes at the top of the masthead at the Houston Chronicle as Minneapolis Star Tribune editor Nancy Barnes is headed here to oversee the newsroom of the city's only daily newspaper.

The Chronicle has named Barnes, 52, as editor and executive vice president, a role which will have her in charge of the newsroom. An announcement in the Minneapolis Star Tribune noted that "As Star Tribune editor the past six years, Barnes led the state’s largest newsroom through a time of great change as the company changed ownership. This past year, the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting."

Barnes will assume the new job at the Hearst-owned Chronicle on Oct. 14.

“Nancy understands the value and impact of local enterprise reporting that distinguishes a newsroom,” Hearst Newspapers president Mark Aldam said in a statement. “We are very excited to have her join our leadership team in Houston.”

Barnes succeeds former editor Jeff Cohen, who was moved over to the newspaper's editorial and op-ed pages after leading the paper for a decade.

She has an MBA from the University of North Carolina and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia. Barnes is on the board of directors of the American Society of News Editors.

In a letter posted on the Poynter website, Barnes told her Minneapolis staff that she did not leave her current job because she was unhappy or feared for the future. "But in the end, I decided it was time for me to take on some big new challenges, while continuing to serve journalism," she wrote.

Barnes was also in the news recently when she apologized for a column by a Minneapolis Star Tribune sports columnist who called for University of Minnesota coach Jerry Kill to resign after suffering an epileptic seizure during a football game.

"In no way did we intend to suggest that people with epilepsy, or other disabilities, should be hidden away. Nor did we intend to be callous or insensitive to their struggles," she wrote. ".....If any good comes of the anger readers have expressed, I hope it’s that the broader community comes away with a better understanding of epilepsy and those who struggle to bring it under control."

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