T-Squared: Our newsroom leadership team

Left to right: Ayan Mittra, Darla Cameron, Matthew Watkins, Sewell Chan, Bobby Blanchard, Andy Alford

In the nearly six months I’ve been here, I’ve come to deeply admire not only the quality of our staff but also the thoughtfulness of our managers. I cherish the Tribune’s culture of collaboration and consensus. I also know that we managers need to improve communication, meetings, workflow and decision-making so that we can do job No. 1: helping our staff do its best work. I’m pleased today to announce some promotions and organizational adjustments to further that aim.

With Ross Ramsey’s impending retirement — so well-deserved, but bittersweet — we will retire the title of executive editor. Ross’ contributions as interim editor-in-chief last year were enormous, and we will be forever grateful for his leadership.

Ayan Mittra has a new title: senior managing editor. He’ll have three areas of focus. He will ensure that we publish a regular drumbeat of impactful enterprise stories — including profiles, narratives and explainers — and coordinate with our managing editors and Zahira Torres, senior editor of our ProPublica-Texas Tribune investigative unit, to carry out our most memorable, ambitious journalism. He will also oversee our newsroom’s regional expansion, about which we’ll have more to say soon. Finally, Ayan remains a leader in the newsroom’s collaborations with business-side colleagues and with external stakeholders. I consult with Ayan every day and cherish his decency and fairness. Ayan is a guardian of our standards and values, and he is empowered to make final decisions on coverage when I’m away.

Matthew Watkins, our managing editor for news and politics, remains at the center of our operation, managing the firehose of news. The strength of our current editing bench makes it possible for Matthew to deepen our reporting and elevate our storytelling, as he has done with our Operation Lone Star coverage. Matthew manages the relationships between editors and reporters with great care. He has one of the highest-pressure jobs at the Tribune; his news judgment and intelligence are felt all across our coverage. Matthew will continue to work closely with Ayan and me to make sure beat reporters get time and support to pursue short- and medium-term projects.

Darla Cameron, who in four years has revamped the way we report election results, led a redesign of our salaries explorer and helped us become the state’s most essential resource for COVID-19 data, is being promoted to managing editor for visual journalism, overseeing photo, video and data visuals. Darla will lead improvements in the systems, collaborations and processes we need to move projects forward. She will help us raise our game on photo essays, short documentaries, information graphics, data tools and much more. Pu Ying Huang and Todd Wiseman will report to Darla, as will Chris Essig. Darla will also work closely with our product, engineering and design colleagues.

Chris Essig has been promoted to editor of data visuals. His deep technical experience as a newsroom developer positions him well to take our information graphics, databases and data reporting to the next level. Chris is an empathetic leader and superb line editor whose work on our COVID-19 case tracker and redesigned salaries explorer shows how data can drive our journalism. Carla Astudillo, Mandi Cai, Ren Larson and data visuals fellows will report to Chris.

Todd Wiseman has a new title: senior editor, video and multimedia. Todd is part of the founding generation at the Tribune. His eye for story, passion for craft and vision for immersive storytelling are boundless. His team will be doing more documentary-style narratives in the months to come. He will be part of a broader, ongoing discussion led by Jacob Villanueva about our audio strategy and how best to structure and support it.

Finally, I want to say how thrilled I am that Andy Alford finally joined us last week, as director of editorial recruitment, training and career development, and as a member of the Tribune’s senior management team. Andy has begun to meet everyone on staff and understand our colleagues’ needs and aspirations. She will make sure our journalists have the skills and tools they need to thrive here and beyond. She will develop and implement best practices for the recruitment, hiring, compensation, retention and advancement of our journalists. She will help us become a newsroom that reflects the state it covers.

Andy, Ayan, Matthew, Darla, Audience Director Bobby Blanchard and I will meet frequently as a team, working in unison to help us excel. This team will also give me the time I need to collaborate with our events, product, communications, revenue, fundraising, finance and HR colleagues as we all prepare for a future beyond Evan Smith and Ross Ramsey, our beloved co-founders.

I extend my congratulations to Darla and Chris on their promotions and my thanks to all our senior managers for their steady leadership.