Joe Kieta, The Modesto Bee’s editor and senior vice president, was named Friday to the same position at The Fresno Bee.
Since arriving in 2012, Kieta has worked to quicken the pace of the newsroom’s digital transformation, establishing itself as one of the the leaders in McClatchy for audience growth.
He also helped shepherd award-winning investigative and accountability journalism, including a series of stories that detailed the exceedingly slow pace of justice in Stanislaus County courts.
A 2014 series that examined how local businesses were hit with predatory lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act won a McClatchy President’s Award, the company’s highest journalism honor.
"I will deeply miss Modesto and working with our incredible team here," Kieta said. "It’s a bittersweet moment, for sure, but I’m excited to take on a larger role."
Tim Ritchey, The Bee’s general manager, said the company would move quickly to find a new editor.
"Joe’s contribution to advancing the digital transformation at The Modesto Bee has been significant,” Ritchey said. "He has built a strong foundation for our future and leaves a highly skilled and focused team in place."
In concert with this announcement, McClatchy has announced a new regional structure to enhance news collaboration.
Regional publisher Gary Wortel explains, "as part of the next stage of Newsroom Reinvention, we are moving to a regional editor structure that will allow us to innovate faster, collaborate more effectively and serve our readers better. We know we are stronger when we work together."
The regional structure will begin in the West and the Carolinas.
Lauren Gustus, editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, will become regional editor over California and Boise. While day-to-day operations in each newsroom will still be run by the local editor, regional editors like Gustus will oversee groups of newsrooms, ensuring that they innovate, collaborate and drive toward a digital future.
Kieta currently oversees the Merced Sun-Star newsroom, and this will continue in his new role.
McClatchy, which owns The Bee and four other daily newspapers in California, is in the first stages of a regional approach to collaborate more effectively and serve readers better.
The move to Fresno will reunite Kieta with Ken Riddick, who joined The Fresno Bee as president and publisher in October after serving in a similar role at The Modesto Bee for more than three years.