Commercial Appeal editor caps 43-year career

Fri, May 24, 2002 by Mark Kroeger

Angus McEachran, editor and president of The Commercial Appeal, will retire at the end of the year, closing a 43-year career in which he headed newspapers that earned three Pulitzer Prize awards. A new editor will be named later by The E. W. Scripps Co., parent company of The Commercial Appeal. Part of McEachran’s role will be assumed by John Wilcox, general manager and executive vice president, who will take over in September as chief executive officer of the newspaper.McEachran, 62, made the announcement Thursday to the staff of Memphis Publishing Co. The blunt-spoken, sometimes intimidating editor earned a reputation as a man driven by hard news. As metropolitan editor of The Commercial in 1968, McEachran oversaw coverage of the 1968 murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then covered the arrest of assassin James Earl Ray and his extradition from London to the United States.In 1977, McEachran oversaw coverage of the death of Elvis Presley, including revelations of excessive drug use.McEachran left The Commercial Appeal in late 1977 to become executive editor of the Birmingham Post-Herald in Alabama and was promoted to editor six months later. In 1982, he was named executive editor of another Scripps newspaper, The Pittsburgh Press, where he became editor in 1983.Under his leadership The Press won back-to-back Pulitzer Prizes in 1986 and 1987 for investigative journalism, the first in the newspaper’s 100-year history.McEachran returned to Memphis in 1993 as editor of The Commercial Appeal. A year later, editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. McEachran was promoted to editor and president of The Commercial Appeal in 1994.“No other Scripps editor can say his staff has won three Pulitzer Prizes, not to mention dozens of other prestigious awards,” said Alan M. Horton, senior vice president for newspapers for Scripps.“But prize-winning journalism is not the only reason for Angus’s exalted status,” Horton said. “He is as colorful, articulate, entertaining and funny as any of the great editors of yesteryear.“He also has a razor-sharp edge, especially when he’s defending his readers’ right to know and demanding that public officials and institutions - and journalists - be held accountable.”McEachran, who avoided board memberships during his tenure as editor in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest, will continue after retirement as a trustee of the Scripps Howard Foundation.McEachran said he also is considering offers to teach part-time and would like to be more directly involved in the community.Wilcox, 52, has been with Scripps for 21 years, serving in various capacities at newspapers from Florida to California.He came to Memphis in 2000 from Ventura, Calif. During his tenure, the five Scripps newspapers there were combined into a single operation as the Ventura County Star with 100,000 daily circulation. Converted from afternoon to morning publications, the newspaper became profitable and overtook the Los Angles Times in countywide circulation.The E.W. Scripps Company is a diverse media concern with interests in newspaper publishing, broadcast television, national television networks and interactive media. Scripps operates 21 daily newspapers, 10 broadcast TV stations and four cable television networks.Scripps national television network brands include Home & Garden Television, Food Network, DIY -- Do It Yourself Network and Fine Living. Scripps Networks programming can be seen in 25 countries.The company also operates Scripps Howard News Service, United Media, the worldwide licensing and syndication home of PEANUTS and DILBERT, and 31 Web sites, including hgtv.com, foodtv.com, diynet.com, fineliving.com and comics.com.

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