U-B shuffles newsroom team

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One of the strengths of the Union-Bulletin has been the low turnover in its news department over the years. This means the reporters and editors handling the local news understand the background and history of the issues that face the Valley.

Recently, Carlos Virgen, a key member of our staff who managed our website, accepted a position with Whitman College. He has been with the U-B for almost seven years.

Any time we lose someone, especially someone who has been as crucial to our efforts as Virgen has been to our digital strategy, it makes for a difficult situation. But difficult situations are also opportunities. Opportunities to re-examine what we are doing and how we are doing it, and where we are going and how we can get there.

To solidify our present situation and to prepare for the future, a reorganization of the news department has resulted in the promotion of three staff members effective Monday.

Alasdair Stewart, who is in his second stint with the U-B, will assume new duties and the title of managing editor for news and multimedia. He has served the last 6 1/2 years as city editor and has worked at the U-B for more than 13 years. Prior to working at the U-B, he attended and graduated from Whitman College.

Stewart’s new role will continue to transform our news gathering and reporting toward a model in which there is no barrier between our digital and print work.

While print will remain important, our websites and social media will be used to augment our reporting with increased amounts of unique content as we transition toward a business model that relies more and more on digital revenue.

As that transition progresses, increased emphasis will be placed on multimedia reporting, mobile devices and developing new digital products to ensure a robust and growing digital presence.

Stewart will be helped in this transformation by Thomas P. Skeen, who has been named assistant managing editor for news. Skeen will work with reporters on their stories, plan future coverage, increase enterprise reporting and assure the use of mutimedia platforms for the delivery of the content.

Skeen has served the last two years as specialty publications editor, handling the Walla Walla Valley Weekly, Business Monthly and Family Forum. Prior to a second stint in Japan with Stars and Stripes, Skeen had been the U-B city editor and the wine reporter for an effort that included the U-B, Yakima Herald-Republic and The Seattle Times. He graduated from San Francisco State University, where he majored in journalism.

Including both stints with the U-B, Tom has worked here for nine years.

Brenden Koch will replace Skeen as specialty publications editor. Koch has worked at the U-B as a part-time copy editor for almost two years and has lived in the area for 27 years. He has worked as a graphic designer at a local printshop for about 12 years. He graduated from Walla Walla Community College and Washington State University.

Koch will shepherd our successful niche products and take on additional duties related to our computer systems.

We are currently advertising for a part-time copy editor to replace Koch.

This is a lot of movement in a very short time. Fortunately for us and our readers, everyone has been here awhile and knows the community. We believe these changes will result in the U-B doing an even better job in print and online.

Rick Doyle can be reached at rickdoyle@wwub.com or 526-8306.

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