Thursday, October 21, 2010

Goldberg leaving Plain Dealer

Susan Goldberg is heading home to San Francisco. After 3 1/2 years in Cleveland, the Plain Dealer's editor announced yesterday that she's resigning Nov. 5 to join Bloomberg News as an executive editor. Managing editor Debra Adams Simmons will take over the paper's top job.

Goldberg gave the Plain Dealer a new personality, a new face. She transformed its front page with splashy centerpieces, sporty blurbs, and a relentless Cleveland focus, shoving national and world news to back pages. A glamorous figure in the newsroom, cutting across the carpet in high heels and St. John's knit suits, she also insisted on style and energy in the paper's coverage, her strategy for holding onto readers in the digital age.

But few will accuse Goldberg of softening the Plain Dealer. She steeled its spine, green-lighting aggressive coverage of patronage in Cuyahoga County government. The FBI raids vindicated the paper's stance and sparked exhaustive, banner-headline corruption coverage. Reporter Mark Puente's exposés brought down sheriff Gerald McFaul, whose corruption had been hidden or winked at for 30 years. Even our columnist Michael D. Roberts, a ferocious PD critic for years, gave Goldberg credit this September for the paper's watchdogging and its role in spurring voters to reform county government.

She'll surely be happy to leave the Don Rosenberg trial behind her. Her decision to replace Rosenberg as Cleveland Orchestra critic became a national media controversy and an ugly legal battle, raising knotty questions about how papers respond to fierce pressure from those they cover and when a writer's critical judgment becomes bias.

Home and marriage, not controversy, led to Goldberg's departure. When I profiled her two years ago, she told me her husband, real estate lawyer Geoffrey Etnire, would move to Cleveland. But he stayed in California, creating a cross-continental commuter marriage. In fact, I randomly ran into the two of them in San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace on a Saturday this February. She told me they owned a home nearby. Now Goldberg will reunite with her husband and walk to work at Bloomberg News' office in downtown San Francisco.

To read my profile of Goldberg, "Front Page News," click here. For Roberts' column, "Pain Dealer," click here.

No comments: