Media notes: News Journal publisher out; remembering Molly Murray

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Some big changes have taken place at the News Journal.

The media community is still reeling from the death of long-time reporter Molly Murray who passed away earlier this week.

Murray will leave a big void in Sussex County coverage. But she will be best remembered for her warm personality.

Most reporters have an edge, but as the tributes flowed in this week from friends, colleagues and even state officials, it was clear that Murray’s warmth and humanity touched many lives during her career.

Combined with her solid writing and reporting skills, it was an unbeatable combination. To says she will be missed is a major understatement.

Leath departs publisher’s post

Also this week, News Journal Publisher Susan Leath has resigned to pursue other opportunities, the newspaper reported.

Leath remained in a low-key role as publisher, although she was not as invisible as many of the current generation of her colleagues who juggle multiple newspapers. She did not come out of the Gannett management mill, coming to Delaware after serving as a publisher in State College., PA.

Working with Editor David Ledford, she headed both the News-Journal and the Daily Times, as well as several downstate weeklies, as the company shrunk its once large staff of reporters and editors during her tenure that got under way in 2014.

Tom Donovan, who worked for a time at the News Journal and heads a regional group of Gannett pubs in New Jersey, who be in charge on an interim basis.

Carron Phillips heads to the Big Apple

Back in May, Carron Phillips quietly moved on from the News Journal to the New York Daily News.

Phillips had risen to one of the top positions in the shrunken newsroom of the NJ as engagement editor. He wrote columns and had a heavy influence on editorials.

At the Daily News, Phillips is now writing a column on social issues, race and sports, his passions at the News Journal.

Phillips may end up being remembered among those who follow the local media as a backer of Eugene Young, a community organizer who came close to becoming mayor.

After Purzycki won, Phillips went after the mayor, attacking him for his “arrogance.”

Phillips violated a traditional rule in Delaware politics that “buries the hatchet” after hard-fought campaigns – at least for a time. The tradition is still observed during Return Day in Georgetown – at least when it comes to state posts.

Purzycki failed to take the bait and chose not go to war with the News Journal. Young also took the high road and continued his grassroots political efforts.

Phillips, for the most part, remained low key during his remaining time at the NJ

Jason Levine, who also serves as sports editor, is now the sole engagement editor at the NJ.

Reyes departs; Gentry gets state job

Another departure in the past couple of weeks came when Jessica Reyes moved to a position in higher education.

Reyes has done a solid job in covering the criminal courts and working the police beat.

Meanwhile, Jeff Gentry, a former News Journal editor, has taken an internal communications position with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.

Gentry wrote a popular column in the News Journal that focused on non movers and shakers. He was let go in a decision that was reporteldy ordered by headquarters.

Over the years, moves have included eliminating the post of business editor, no small issue in a business-oriented state like Delaware.

The News Journal newsroom, which was once had a staff of 100, is now down to about three dozen, based on listings in the online staff directory.

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