WILKES-BARRE — Times Leader Executive Editor Joe Butkiewicz, a journalist with the newspaper for the past three decades, announced his resignation on Wednesday.
“The company is changing, going in a direction with production and … it doesn’t fit my style,” Butkiewicz, 55, said in an interview after informing newsroom staffers at an emotional meeting.
Butkiewicz penned a July 7 column explaining a change in the newspaper’s appearance resulting from The Times Leader and its associated community papers moving the layout and assembly of pages to a pagination hub in Miamisburg, Ohio.
Butkiewicz said pagination hubs have been successful for other newspaper chains, and he thinks it can succeed here “with the right resources.” But for him, “it’s not a good fit. And, I think for it to succeed, I think I need to step out of the way and let it go the way the company wants to go. It’s hard because I love so many aspects of it. But I do think that in my old-fashioned way, I’m in the way of progress,” Butkiewicz said.
Walt T. Lafferty, regional business development director and general manager for The Times Leader, said Butkiewicz will remain on as executive editor until Labor Day. Lafferty will begin the process of finding a replacement.
“Joe has been the face of this newsroom for many years and has led The Times Leader through many challenges and successes, and we will be forever grateful for that leadership. As Joe navigates the next challenge in his career, I would like to extend best wishes and nothing but success and happiness,” Lafferty said.
A Kingston native, Butkiewicz graduated from Bishop O’Reilly High School, attended Luzerne County Community College and graduated from New York University with a degree in film and television. After living in New York after college, he returned to the Wyoming Valley.
Butkiewicz started as a correspondent, reviewing movies for a year and a half, and then was hired in 1983 as a features writer. He later became features editor and was an architect of The Guide, Friday’s features and entertainment section. He was editorial page editor from 2001-05, promoted to managing editor of the weekly papers, promoted again to managing editor of the daily paper and then named vice president/executive editor in 2009.
Butkiewicz said he loved writing, but working with reporters and photographers as an assignment editor was his favorite time at the paper.
He also enjoys interaction with readers, even when they’re mad “because I sometimes can make the situation better or get something they want in the paper or explain why it is in the paper the way it is. And that’s a great opportunity to be able to serve the public. It’s a wonderful thing.”
Butkiewicz, who has a wife and two children, is “looking for new opportunities.”