Joel P. Rawson, the executive editor of the Providence Journal, has told fellow employees that he is retiring, effective April 29.
Rawson's career at the ProJo bridges the headier days of fuller staffing and greater journalistic ambition in the '70s and '80s to the current uncertainty and anxiety facing the newspaper industry. He is known as a consummate journalist who played an important role in elevating the national reputation of Rhode Island's dominant daily.
While the ProJo is a thinner imitation of its former self, the paper, in part through multiple buyouts, has avoided the kind of sharp layoffs that have taken place at many papers. And the ProJo still plays a vital role in unearthing corruption and offering the most detailed coverage of government in Rhode Island.
There is no clear word on succession, although new media czar Tom Heslin would almost certainly be on any short list.
Rawson communicated his retirement, long speculated upon by ProJo types, in conversations with a few people in the newsroom today. The word quickly spread throughout the staff. (Rawson did not immediately return a voice mail left on his phone line.)
I'll post more on this tomorrow, but I wanted to get the news out. [UPDATE: I'll be writing about Rawson's retirement for this week's Phoenix, so I'm going to hold off on additional blogging on the subject.]