Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Brubaker Demoted In Sports Staff Shakeup at Local Paper

The Des Moines Register sports department, which has badly needed some new ideas and new blood, is finally getting a transfusion.

A shakeup at the top is coming.

Effective next week, Randy Brubaker will no longer be handling the day-to-day responsibilities in the department. Brubaker will be replaced by Bryce Miller, who has been an assistant sports editor.

It sounds like a demotion for Brubaker, who has been called an assistant managing editor but basically has been the sports editor in recent years.

Brubaker replaced Dave Witke as sports editor about seven years ago, and it was regarded as an unpopular move by people in the department and the newsroom.

Few people outside the paper knew who Brubaker was, and still don't know who he is. During his working hours, Brubaker rarely left the newsroom, and he attended very few games.

He preferred to edit copy rather than write stories or columns.

There are many in the news business [and I'm one of them] who think a sports editor should be a high-profile person who is not only seen at games, but also writes about them.

He, or she, needs to like people and enjoy talking to people.

Hell, the sports editor should cover a game once in a while to find out what it's like out there.

That's especially the case with newspaper circulation numbers in a freefall nationwide.

Brubaker's new job will be working with the newspaper's website. It's not often that an editor in the newsroom would leave those types of duties to handle web responsibilities.

The local paper's web operation has been among the worst in the nation for papers its size.

"It sounds like a demotion to me, but you never know," a veteran newspaperman who has been both an editor and a writer said of Brubaker's job change. "They may be more interested in having a good website than a good sports department.

"Maybe it will be an improvement for both."

Here's the announcement that was distributed to newsroom employees today:


"It is our pleasure to announce the following:

"Assistant Managing Editor Randy Brubaker will leave his day-to-day
management role in our Sports Department and will assume a hands-on role
with the news content of our Web site and our use of multimedia. Randy has
already been supervising our online news efforts. His new assignment will
include responsibility for (1) increasing the number of newsroom staffers
involved in online, (2) increasing traffic to the web site and making sure
we become the premier news site for Iowans, and (3) ensuring that breaks news in a timely and meaningful way. He will
act as the newsroom's lead person in media convergence projects and
will help oversee the development of our company-wide, database-driven calendar system.

"Randy will work closely with Online Editor Tim Sharp, and this will give
us the strongest possible combination as we seek to greatly enhance our Web
report. While Randy will have full responsibility for online content, Tim
will continue to provide editing power, technical savvy and ideas as we move forward.

"Assistant Sports Editor Bryce Miller will become executive sports editor
and will take over day-to-day management of the Sports Department. Bryce
has excelled as both reporter and editor and has had impact across the room
on special projects. We're fortunate to have him stepping into this new
role. Bryce will report to Randy.

"These changes are effective Monday, Feb. 7.

"--Paul Anger, Susan Patterson Plank"

Vol. 4, No. 304
Feb. 2, 2005