Joyce Terhaar announced Friday that she is leaving The Sacramento Bee after seven years as its executive editor and senior vice president – a tenure highlighted by engaged, community-focused journalism and award-winning investigative reporting.
“It has been a challenging time to lead a news operation given the dramatic changes in readership and our business model,” Terhaar said. “Yet I’ve found it tremendously satisfying, largely because of the talented journalists here who are committed to work that matters in this community, and who do the difficult reporting needed to hold powerful people accountable for their behavior and decisions.”
Lauren Gustus, currently the editor of the McClatchy-owned Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas, will move to Sacramento to become a regional editor with responsibility for The Bee, McClatchy’s four other California newsrooms and The Idaho Statesman in Boise.
Publisher Gary Wortel said that Gustus’ arrival will mark a shift in the way that McClatchy manages its 30 local newsrooms. While day-to-day operations in each newsroom will still be run by a local editor – in Sacramento, it will be longtime Bee Managing Editor Scott Lebar – regional editors like Gustus will oversee groups of newsrooms, ensuring that they innovate, collaborate and drive toward a digital future.
Wortel said McClatchy’s new regional structure for news will make its local journalism stronger. “The next chapter for Sacramento news coverage will be exciting as we leverage more resources across the region to support great journalism in all of our markets,” he said.
Wortel became acquainted with Gustus, 37, when he was the publisher of The Star-Telegram and she was being considered for the editor’s job there. He described her as an “innovative and digitally focused editor,” noting that she has dramatically increased both the readership and the impact of the Star-Telegram’s work in a short time in Fort Worth.
Before becoming editor of The Star-Telegram last year, Gustus was executive editor of The Coloradoan in Fort Collins, Colo. She is a graduate of Pepperdine University and has worked for the Los Angeles Daily News, the Reno Gazette-Journal and The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah. She and her husband, Zach, have two young children.
Gustus said she’s excited about the work ahead. “The commitment to difference-making, community journalism throughout the region will be just as strong as it has ever been,” Gustus said. “And we now have a tremendous opportunity to collaborate on project work and to share best practices with respect to social strategy and engagement.”
Terhaar, 58, first joined The Bee in 1988 as a business reporter. She became city editor in 1993 and was promoted to managing editor in 1998. She became executive editor in 2011, leading her newsroom through the difficult economic challenges faced by all media companies while maintaining and advancing high-quality, award-winning work that served the community by holding public officials and the powerful accountable for their actions.
“In just a short time working with Joyce I have been amazed by her passion for watchdog journalism and hands-on involvement in the newsroom," said Wortel. “She has demonstrated tremendous leadership in local news and state Capitol coverage”
The Bee won a Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in 2007, when Terhaar was the managing editor. On her watch as executive editor, The Bee was a Pulitzer finalist for feature photography in 2013 and stories about Nevada’s patient dumping in 2014. Its editorial cartoonist, Jack Ohman, won a Pulitzer in 2016.
Terhaar upheld McClatchy’s long-standing commitment to provide news and information to help guide the community, while focusing efforts in modern approaches to investigative reporting, visual journalism and digital urgency. She was a leader in moving the newsroom to an approach that balanced journalism with analytics, becoming an early adopter of the use of data in its journalism and publishing a wealth of coverage in its Data Tracker, including popular databases that track the salaries of public employees.
Terhaar said she plans to take a few months off to “recharge” and travel with her husband, Geoff Long. She said that she has planned for years to write and teach at some point, and that her transition gives her “an opportunity to decide if that time is now.”