Scripps names nationally respected editor, innovator to lead news operations in Memphis
Wed, October 09, 2002 by Mark Kroeger
CINCINNATI – Chris Peck, who for 14 years provided award-wining and innovative editorial leadership at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., has been named editor of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. Peck’s appointment is effective Jan. 1, 2003. Peck, 52, will succeed Angus McEachran, who announced his retirement earlier this year, effective at year’s end.Also at The Commercial Appeal, Deputy Managing Editor Otis L. Sanford has been named managing editor. He succeeds Henry Stokes, who has been named assistant to the publisher. The appointments for Sanford and Stokes also are effective Jan. 1.The Commercial Appeal is owned and operated by The E. W. Scripps Company.“Memphis readers are in for a treat,” said Alan M. Horton, senior vice president/newspapers for Scripps. “Peck and Sanford will be a formidable team and worthy successors to Angus McEachran. No one knows more about and cares more about Memphis than Otis. And no editor I know believes more in public service than Chris.” John Wilcox, The Commercial Appeal’s chief executive officer, said, “Chris Peck's exceptional tenure at The Spokesman-Review demonstrated his outstanding skills as a journalist and editor. We're fortunate to have his innovation and drive to lead the news operation of The Commercial Appeal. He is determined to create an outstanding regional newspaper for the 21st century, and I'm looking forward to working with him in the creation.”Peck grew up in a newspaper family and still owns a small newspaper in Wyoming with his father and brother. His first job was sweeping lead filings from beneath a Linotype machine in the family newspaper plant. While at The Spokesman-Review (1982-2001), he earned a reputation as one of the country’s top editors and is widely credited for transforming the newspaper into one of the nation’s finest. Under his leadership, The Spokesman-Review was judged by the Columbia Journalism Review as one of the top 25 newspapers in America.In 2001, Peck left Spokane to accept the Belo Distinguished Chair of Journalism at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. As head of the journalism program he has been shaping the development of a digital newsroom, where students and professionals will learn how print, broadcast and online journalists can work together in a converged media environment.Peck also won a Ford Foundation grant last year to organize and coordinate content-based roundtable discussions between newspapers and their readers in 50 states. The National Credibility Roundtables Project, which Peck conceived and founded, also coordinates roundtable discussions between broadcast and online newsrooms and viewers. Peck has a long list of accomplishments as a newspaper industry leader, including serving as the current president of the Associated Press Managing Editors Foundation, which funds journalism training and development projects across the United States. He also served as APME president in 2001.Peck graduated from Stanford University in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. In 1999, he also completed the News Management Center’s Advanced Executive Program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.At The Commercial Appeal, Peck and Sanford will be working closely together, supervising the day-to-day operations of the newspaper’s 190-member editorial department and shaping the newspaper’s long-term editorial strategy and direction. Sanford, 49, brings 29 years of newspaper experience to his role as managing editor. He started his career in the summer of 1973 as a copy clerk at The Commercial Appeal. For nearly 10 years, Sanford was a reporter in Memphis, covering such notable stories as the death of Elvis Presley. He was promoted to assistant metro editor for politics and minority affairs coverage in 1986. Sanford left Memphis in 1987 to become an assistant city editor at The Pittsburgh Press. Five years later he was named deputy city editor of The Detroit Free Press. He returned to Memphis in 1994 to become deputy managing editor of The Commercial Appeal.Sanford earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Mississippi, in 1975. He was the first African-American student awarded a journalism scholarship to attend the university. He transferred to Ole Miss after graduating in 1973 from Northwest Mississippi Community College.Sanford steps up to the “number two” position in the newsroom as Stokes moves to the business side of the newspaper operation as assistant to the publisher. Stokes, 57, has 37 years experience in the newspaper business, including working at five daily newspapers. He has worked at The Commercial Appeal for 14 years, the last 10 as the newspaper’s managing editor.As assistant to the publisher, Stokes will be working closely with Wilcox, who will become publisher on Jan. 1. Stokes will help the publisher coordinate business operations of the paper, strategic planning, budgeting and interdepartmental communication.The E.W. Scripps Company is a diverse media concern with interests in newspaper publishing, broadcast television, national television networks, interactive media and plans to enter the television-retailing market. 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 has announced its intention to acquire the Shop At Home television-retailing network. The acquisition is pending approval by Shop At Home shareholders.Scripps 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.