Heslin appointed as ProJo's executive editor


It's official. Tom Heslin, a presence at the Providence Journal for more than 25 years and the seeming heir-apparent since the retirement of Joel Rawson, has been appointed as the newspaper's executive editor.

Heslin's ProJo career dates to the paper's glory days. Yet whether he can reverse the newspaper's decline is a big question.

The appointment is described in an e-mail sent to staffers today. Heslin, who got the job on an interim basis after Rawson left, could not be immediately reached for comment. I'll post details if he returns a telephone message.

Heslin was the ProJo's manging editor for investigations when the paper won a 1994 Pulitzer for reporting on corruption in Rhode Island's court system, In 2005, he moved from a role as metro managing editor to managing editor for new media.

Here's additional detail on Heslin's bio:

Tom was a founder of ACCESS/RI, which has worked for 10 years to raise public awareness of the importance of open government in Rhode Island. In 2006, he served as the president of the New England Associated Press News Executives Association, and has helped to found the New England First Amendment Coalition. He has served on the board of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, on the Freedom of Information Committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and as a regional coordinator for Sunshine Week in New England. He is a member of the News/Editorial Advisory Board of the American Press Institute, and has served as an adjunct faculty member at the Poynter Institute. In 2006, he participated in Poynter’s “Critical Issues Conference” concerning on-line ethics in newsrooms.

More recently, things have taken a sharp turn for the worse with the first-ever layoffs and another buyout at Rhode Island's statewide daily.

The ongoing dissonance can be seen in how, after the ProJo recently eliminated its locally zoned editions, it is running divorce listings in the Rhode Island section -- space that would be better filled with local news stories that now have nowhere else to go. "It makes no sense," says one staffer.

As some Rhode Islanders remain unhappy with the diminished amount of news in their newspaper, there's talk of a possible post-January 1 redesign. 

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