Star-Telegram Executive Editor and Senior Vice President Jim Witt announced Thursday that he is retiring from the paper effective at the end of October.
Witt, a Fort Worth native who joined the Star-Telegram in 1986 as an assistant managing editor, has been editor-in-chief for the past 20 years and is the second longest-serving editor in the paper’s 107-year history, topped only by legendary Star-Telegram Editor James North, who served from 1923-1956.
Witt says he decided to retire because he turns 65 in the spring, “and I’m just ready for whatever’s next!
“I’ve been in journalism for more than 40 years now, and it has been the best career I could have ever asked for,” Witt said, “especially because I got to be editor of my hometown paper for so long. The job has changed tremendously since I took over 20 years ago, especially as digital has taken on such great importance for our future, and the Star-Telegram needs someone who can bring new vigor and imagination to our journalism.”
During Witt’s Star-Telegram career, he served as publisher for both the Northeast Tarrant and Arlington editions of the paper and was editor of the inaugural daily Arlington edition and supervising editor of the afternoon edition, which was discontinued in 1995.
Witt was named executive editor of the Star-Telegram in 1996 after the Walt Disney Co. bought Capital Cities/ABC, which had owned the paper since 1974, when the Carter family sold it.
Disney sold the paper to the Knight-Ridder newspaper company in 1997 but kept the TV network, and for the next decade the Star-Telegram was one of the company’s star performers.
Annual surveys showed the Star-Telegram to be at the top of the 32-paper chain’s customer satisfaction polls, and the paper was named “Newspaper of the Year’’ and “Online Newspaper of the Year’’ multiple times by state and local journalism organizations.
The McClatchy Co. bought the Star-Telegram in 2006, and the paper continues to be one of its best performers, earning several “President’s Awards,” given annually to honor the best journalism in the company.
“Jim has been a great business partner,” said Star-Telegram Publisher Gary Wortel, “and he has demonstrated incredible leadership during the most challenging times our industry has ever seen. I will certainly miss his great instincts for local journalism.’’
Wortel said the paper would launch a national search for Witt’s successor.