Thomasson retires as vice president/news, news service editor; Copeland named editor; Ambrose, editorial director

Thu, January 14, 1999 by Mark Kroeger

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dan K. Thomasson is retiring Friday as vice president/news for Scripps Howard newspapers and editor of Scripps Howard News Service. Peter Copeland, 41, Scripps Howard News Service managing editor, will succeed Thomasson as editor and general manager of the service.Also, Jay Ambrose, 54, chief editorial writer for the news service and former editor of the Denver Rocky Mountain News, has been promoted to director of editorial policy for the Scripps Howard newspapers. He will be responsible for overseeing editorial policy on national and international issues for Scripps newspapers.Scripps Howard newspapers and the Scripps Howard News Service are operating units of The E.W. Scripps Company.Thomasson has been with Scripps Howard for 40 years, serving nearly 35 of those years in Washington. He has been managing editor or editor of Scripps Howard News Service for 23 years, moving it from an in-house operation produced exclusively for Scripps Howard newspapers to a full-service supplemental wire with more than 400 clients, a graphics/photo service with 200 clients, a Western wire with 80 clients, and a pagination service with 102 clients, making it one of the nation's largest supplemental wire services.Thomasson will continue to write a twice-a-week column for the news service.Thomasson, 65, ends a career that spanned five decades. His coverage of some of the most important news stories of the 1960s and 1970s, including Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick and Richard Nixon’s Watergate, prompted Washington Magazine to list him as one of the best investigative reporters in the country.“It’s tough to come up with superlatives that do justice to someone of Dan Thomasson’s stature,” said Alan M. Horton, senior vice president/newspapers for Scripps. “Dan has defined what investigative reporting is all about for an entire generation of newspaper journalists. His body of work, including his long tenure as head of one of the most respected supplemental news services in the world, proves his devotion to all that is good about this business.“We’re fortunate to have two exceptional journalists with distinguished credentials ready to fill some pretty big shoes,” Horton said.“Peter Copeland is a truly gifted writer, editor and author. His world experiences, diverse background in newspaper journalism and book publishing, and creative new ideas, make him uniquely qualified.“Jay Ambrose is a talented writer and thinker who has the ability to powerfully and clearly provide insight on the issues that are important to us as citizens,” Horton added.A native of Shelbyville, Ind., Thomasson graduated from Indiana University and did graduate work at Colorado University. At IU’s Bloomington, Ind., campus he was editor-in-chief of the Indiana Daily Student, a job once held by famed Scripps Howard World War II correspondent, Ernie Pyle.Following college he joined the staff of the Indianapolis Star. Before becoming a reporter for the Denver Rocky Mountain News, he served in the Army for two years. He was political editor of the News when he was assigned to Washington by Scripps Howard in 1964, in time for the presidential campaign.He became chief congressional correspondent for Scripps Howard in 1966 and managing editor of Scripps Howard News Service in 1976. In January 1980, he became editor of Scripps Howard News Service and chief of the 50-person Washington bureau. He was named vice president for news of Scripps Howard newspapers in October 1986.Thomasson has provided commentary on a variety of national television shows, including Face the Nation, Good Morning America, the Today show, Washington Week in Review and C-Span.He has been an editor-in-residence at a number of universities and has been a speaker at national Investigative Reporters and Editors meetings. He joined former Pennsylvania Gov. William Scranton as the 1986 E. Don Tull lecturers at Franklin College in Indiana.He is a trustee of Franklin College; a member of the National Public Affairs Council for Indiana University; a member of the board of advisors of the Ohio University School of Journalism; and a member of the Board of Visitors, Institute for Political Journalism, Georgetown University.He is president of the Raymond Clapper Foundation and a trustee and vice president of the Scripps Howard Foundation. He is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association; the Gridiron Club (president in 1992); American Society of Newspaper Editors; the National Press Club; the University Club of Washington; and Washington Golf & Country Club.Thomasson’s awards include: "Man of the Year" by the Chamber of Commerce in Shelbyville, Ind., 1970; Associate Alumnus, Franklin College, 1989; elected to Washington Journalism Hall of Fame, 1993; elected to Indiana Academy, 1993; elected to the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame, 1997; and listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the East.Copeland was named managing editor of Scripps Howard News Service in 1997. As a reporter in Washington, Copeland's assignments included the Department of Justice, the Pentagon and foreign affairs. He covered the U.S. invasion of Panama, the Gulf War and the intervention in Somalia, and reported from dozens of countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. Before joining the Washington bureau, Copeland spent five years as the Scripps Howard Latin America correspondent based in Mexico City.He helped write and was featured in a documentary for the PBS Frontline series called "Standoff in Mexico'' about vote fraud during Mexican elections. Copeland first came to Scripps Howard in 1982 when he joined the staff of the El Paso (Texas) Herald-Post. He covered the U.S.-Mexico border and received first-place awards for investigative reporting from Texas UPI in 1982 and 1983. He was the Scripps Howard News Writer of the Year in 1984. His career in journalism began in 1980 covering the night police beat for the City News Bureau of Chicago. Copeland also has written for Time-Life Books, Newsweek, Travel & Leisure magazine, and other publications. He has co-authored four books: She Went to War: The Rhonda Cornum Story, with Rhonda Cornum (Presidio, 1992). The Science of Desire, with Dean Hamer (Simon & Schuster, 1994). My Soul Purpose: The Heidi von Beltz Story, with Heidi von Beltz (Random House, 1996). Living with Our Genes, with Dean Hamer (Doubleday, 1998). A 1979 graduate in Government from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., Copeland also studied politics at Exeter University in England. In 1995, he was awarded the Nathan R. Pusey Award by Lawrence University for "outstanding achievement by an alumnus.'' Ambrose has been chief editorial writer for Scripps Howard News Service since 1995, a position he accepted after serving six years as editor of the Denver Rocky Mountain News. From 1984 to 1989, he was managing editor and then editor of the El Paso Herald-Post.Ambrose was the founding chairman of the literacy committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and has served on the ASNE’s board of directors.A Kentucky native, he graduated from Transylvania College in Lexington, Ky., and spent a year as a professional journalism fellow at the University of Michigan as part of a National Endowment for Humanities program.He began his career at the Winchester Sun in Winchester, Ky., and was, at age 23, editor of a weekly newspaper, The Clay City Times in Kentucky’s Appalachian mountains. He was reporter, assistant city editor and editorial page editor at The Knickerbocker News in Albany, N.Y.In 1987, he graduated from the Harvard Business School Program for Management Development. Ambrose has won the Walker Stone Award for editorial writing, as well as a number of other awards for opinion writing and for his activities in promoting literacy through newspaper programs. The E.W. Scripps Company operates 19 daily newspapers; nine network-affiliated television stations; two TV networks, Home & Garden Television and the Food Network; a TV programmer, Scripps Productions; United Media, a worldwide syndicator and licensor of news features and comics; the Scripps Howard News Service; and publishes independent Yellow Pages directories.