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Santa Barbara Paper Picks Editor From S.F.

Journalism: Chronicle veteran Jerry Roberts takes the helm at News-Press.

May 18, 2002|JOHN JOHNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Santa Barbara News-Press named a new executive editor Friday, choosing respected journalist Jerry Roberts to take charge of the newsroom at the 146-year-old daily.

The appointment of Roberts, 53, who resigned as managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle in February, was announced to the staff in a meeting Friday morning.

"As a locally owned and operated newspaper, everyone at the Santa Barbara News-Press has a personal and community stake in journalistic excellence," said Joseph L. Cole, the publisher.

"We're therefore delighted that a journalist of Jerry Roberts' caliber and experience is joining the News-Press to lead our newsroom."

Roberts worked at the Chronicle, San Francisco's leading newspaper, for 25 years. He previously served as political editor, editorial page editor and city editor. During his five years as managing editor, said Cole, the paper expanded local news and business coverage and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1999.

"I am delighted and honored to have the opportunity to lead the talented editorial staff of a terrific, independent newspaper," Roberts said in a prepared statement.

"The Central Coast is a region of extraordinary natural beauty, with some of the most sophisticated and intelligent readers in the nation, and a host of fascinating environmental, economic, political and social issues. For a newspaperman, it doesn't get much better than that."

The position had been vacant since the departure of Tom Bolton nearly a year ago.

The 44,000-circulation News-Press is a fraction of the size of the Chronicle, as is its newsroom of 55. But the News-Press has developed a solid reputation for local news reporting, winning a Pulitzer in 1962 for editorials exposing the activities of the John Birch Society. The paper was purchased from the New York Times Co. 19 months ago by local billionaire Wendy McCaw's Ampersand Publishing.

Roberts left the Chronicle after its purchase by the Hearst Corp.

Roberts, a graduate of Harvard University, is the author of a biography of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, "Never Let Them See You Cry."

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