The editor who oversees the Star Tribune's institutional voice will leave the newspaper because of philosophical differences with the publisher, who favors a deeper focus on editorials about local rather than international issues, the paper said Wednesday.
Susan Albright, who served as editorial page editor for nearly 15 years, said in a prepared statement that it has been "an honor and a privilege" to work at the paper. Her last day will be Oct. 12.
Publisher Chris Harte said the change was necessary to steer the paper's editorial and opinion pages toward more local topics at a time when opinions about things outside Minnesota are easy to come by.
Albright will be replaced on an interim basis by Managing Editor Scott Gillespie, who expects the assignment to last two to three months as the paper seeks a permanent replacement.
Harte, the chairman of the Star Tribune company who assumed the publisher's title last week when former publisher Par Ridder was forced out by a court ruling, said his decision was not rooted in political differences with Albright. Asked if there was a specific issue on which he disagreed with her, from a gasoline tax to politics, Harte said the only issue was her choice of assignments for her stable of writers.
He gave as examples the Iraq war and global warming, saying the Star Tribune pays for opinion pieces on those subjects from news services and the nation's largest newspapers and needn't write its own. Harte said the change is not meant to rule out international topics on the opinion pages.
"I believe the role of a metro newspaper is changing radically and rapidly in a world of instant global access to information," Harte wrote in a memo to staff. "I see the need for our editorial pages, like the rest of the newspaper, to concentrate more heavily than ever on local, state and regional issues."
Albright became editorial page editor in 1993 and was a past president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers. She oversaw the launch of the Sunday "Opinion Exchange" section and is well-known among others in her industry.
"She's always been a role model," said J.R. Labbe, deputy editorial page editor at the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram. The local vs. international debate that led to Albright's departure has played out elsewhere, Labbe said.
"The push is on all of us right now: local, local, local," Labbe said, adding that it's easy for an editor to find opinion pieces about international topics, but, because editorials are always done in-house, they can't be replaced by a wire service.
Matt McKinney 612-673-7329