In what’s become a familiar pattern at The Times of Acadiana, another editor is jumping ship. This time it’s Managing Editor Jan Risher, who becomes the fourth editor in four years to disappear from the masthead. After the Times’ corporate owner Gannett unceremoniously nudged longtime editor Judy Johnson out the door in 2004, short-lived stints from Doug Gruse and out-of-towner Gene Williams followed, with Daily Advertiser reporter/columnist Risher the latest TOA editor to wash her hands and walk away.
Risher didn’t return a call for comment, but Gannett’s stock price tells part of the story. As recently as 2005, Gannett was trading as high as $84 a share. This morning, it’s trading below $30. In less than three years, the company’s value has dropped more than 50 percent. With that kind of financial disaster, slash-and-burn cost-cutting is rampant throughout Gannett-owned papers, and skeleton editorial crews are left holding the tattered bag.
Risher’s farewell column in Sunday’s Daily Advertiser was an unfortunate microcosm of The Times’ muddled, error-ridden mishmash. Despite an admirable goal — thanking readers and praising good journalists and quality journalism — Risher misspelled traiteur repeatedly throughout the column, then tossed off this line:
The jobs of journalists aren’t made any easier by the sleaze bags out there, but please know that there are journalists working in Lafayette who practice every day ethics that even reformed-Jindalized-Louisiana-legislators should aspire to achieve.
“Sleaze bags”? Let the speculation begin on who’s the target of Risher’s anonymous slam.