Kevin Whitmer is leaving his post as the head of NJ Advance Media, which operates the Star-Ledger and other publications, at the end of the year, he announced today.
As the senior vice president for content, expansion and development, Whitmer has – for better or worse – led the state’s largest newspaper from an era where old print media dominated news in New Jersey into the digital age. He’s spent 26 years at the Star-Ledger.
From 2009 to 2014, Whitmer served as the Star-Ledger’s editor-in-chief. That followed five years as managing editor and five years as sports editor. He previously worked at the Courier-News and the New York Daily News as a sports writer.
“It is time — time for a new perspective and new leadership as our newsroom emerges from 16 long years of industry turmoil and budget cuts, and now turns the corner on a road to growth and an incredibly promising future,” Whitmer wrote. “The next leader will step into this great opportunity with the resources to do more journalism and make a number of hires. There haven’t been many editors in our state for a long time now who can start a job and say that.”
The 54-year-old Whitmer said, “It is time to step away, recharge, do some work on myself and think about how I want the next few years of my life to look.”
“That might be consulting, teaching, volunteering or maybe some wonderful mix of all three,” he said in a retirement announcement.
Whitmer has faced criticism for declining circulation and accusations from journalists of color that the newspaper lacked diversity and deliberately sought to appeal to white readers.
Last year, Whitmer launched an aggressive push for readers to purchase subscriptions and put an increasing number of news stories behind a pay wall. He also announced that the newspapers he ran would shift away from local news.
He also publicly acknowledged that the Star-Ledger’s editorial board leaned left, but sought to set limits on reporters injecting their personal viewpoints.