A six-month national search for a new Albuquerque Journal executive editor culminated in the hiring of a veteran newspaper leader experienced in both traditional watchdog journalism and new, innovative digital platforms, according to Journal publisher William P. Lang.
On Tuesday, Lang announced the hiring of Patrick Ethridge to the Journal staff. Ethridge will become executive editor and vice president of the Journal on May 30. He replaces Karen Moses, who is retiring June 1 after 42 years at the Journal.
“Patrick has the journalistic experience, extensive digital background and strong character we think critical to the Albuquerque Journal,” Lang said.
With 26 years of experience with newspapers, Ethridge’s most recent role has been as editor and publisher of the Beatrice Daily Sun in Nebraska. While there, he oversaw both the advertising and editorial efforts.
Ethridge, 45, has won awards for investigative reporting and overseen newsrooms that won General Excellence awards.
One of Ethridge’s first tasks will be assisting as the Journal rolls out a newly designed website.
“I’ve had an opportunity to work with the new software and I really think both our newsroom and our readers are going to be pleased,” he said. “We’re going to do things the right way, for the right reason. I’ve seen some newspapers sacrifice meaningful journalism to produce video of squirrels playing in the park. We’re not going to be chasing squirrels.”
He continued, “Everyone I’ve met (at the Journal) and all the work I’ve seen at the Albuquerque Journal gives me confidence that this team has all the skills and passion necessary to be at the forefront of a journalism renaissance.”
Ethridge is a native Nebraskan and graduate of the University of Nebraska. Since 2008, he has been with the Beatrice Daily Sun, with the past 10 years spent as its president. The Daily Sun is part of Lee Enterprises, a $66 million company with 77 publications.
“Patrick’s leadership position with Lee speaks highly of his skills in traditional high-quality journalism,” Lang said. “He also will bring his experience and enthusiasm here to enhance all our current print products, as well as launching news and future digital products.”
Earlier in his career, Ethridge served as assistant managing editor for the Kokomo Tribune in Indiana, and managing editor at The Times-Tribune in Kentucky and the Hibbing Daily Tribune in Minnesota. He was news editor at the Newton Daily News in Iowa.
He has a special interest in sports, having served as a sports editor in two different markets.
Ethridge also has worked to strengthen open meeting laws, testifying in front of Nebraska legislative committees about the importance of transparency in government and wrote pieces on the importance of watchdog journalism and open government.
Ethridge and his wife, Courtney, a registered nurse, have been married for 14 years and have 12-year-old twin sons.
When the couple is not chasing rowdy preteens around, they’ve also dabbled in raising cattle, peacocks, ducks, chickens and fainting goats.
The Journal’s incoming editor has a diverse list of hobbies, which includes motorcycles, Muay Thai, fishing, paintball and anything else his children talk him into trying.
Ethridge said he doesn’t shy away from challenges the newspaper industry faces.
“Change is inevitable within any industry. Being able to adapt is a necessity. Embracing that change, having an active role in that change is exciting to me,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is Albuquerque’s newspaper. It doesn’t belong to me. … It belongs to those who read us every day and those who will hopefully read us in the future. Those are the people who will dictate the direction of our newspaper. I cannot wait to get settled and start navigating that path.”