Asheville Citizen-Times newsroom of the future: New faces abound post-layoffs


Update OCT. 26: I just ran into Joel Burgess this morning. He tells me that he’s set to return to the Asheville Citizen-Times on Monday as a government reporter.

Burgess worked at the Hendersonville Times-News as a reporter for several years before joining the Citizen-Times in 2006. He covered Asheville City Council, along with a little bit of everything else, just like we all did. For about the last year during that stretch, Burgess worked as a reporter for the weekly Black Mountain News. Most recently, he’s been doing public relations for Cane Creek Cycling Components.

Original post Oct. 22: Fresh off the Asheville Citizen-Times reorganization and accompanying layoffs in September, the “newspaper of the future” has installed some fresh meat. Editor Josh Awtry touts the new additions to his team “of more than 30 journalists.” (Ah, remember the days when the newspaper had a team twice that size? Those were the days. But let’s be happy about 30.)

Awtry aka Mr. Transparency won’t talk to me about the changes or the new additions, so I’ll have to take his word for everything, and then let the work speak for itself. In his column, Awtry reports that:

Mike Cronin, a former reporter with Texas Watchdog and the Arizona Republic, will cover growth and regional economic trends. Unfortunately, his “years of experience” didn’t help him avoid screwing the pooch on his first story for the Asheville Citizen-Times out of the gate.

In a front-page story published last Saturday, Cronin reported that owners of eight  of 80 businesses listed on an Asheville Beyond Coal letter demanding that Duke Energy close its coal-fired plant had not, in fact, given permission for the coalition to use their name on said letter. That was the lede. Then a few paragraphs down, Cronin reported that Sierra Club officials provided emails showing three of the eight actually did give permission. In fact, the Sierra Club offered proof that six of the eight gave permission.

To make matters worse, Cronin quoted a business representative from Common Ground saying they were outraged that their business name was on the letter when they never gave permission – only it was the wrong Common Ground that Cronin quoted. He quoted somebody from Common Ground Distributors, when he should have been talking to someone from the shop Common Ground. Ooops.

Beth Walton, formerly of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and a Peace Corps veteran, will be covering social issues. In this story (the site is paywalled, btw), she details changes for gay couples in our area following the legal rulings on gay marriage in N.C.

William Woody started out as a photog at the Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald and a “jack of all trades” for an unnamed Colorado newspaper.

Katie Bailey, who started out as an intern at the Citizen-Times, got a full-time job in the reorganization. I guess that makes her senior photographer, since the established photog team of Bill Sanders, John Coutlakis and Bobby Bradley all left during the reorganization.

Caitlin Byrd has been working as online news editor at the Hendersonville Times-News after a reporting stint at the Mountain Xpress. She graduated from UNC Asheville.

Awtry hasn’t announced these additions yet, as far as I know:

-Tonya Maxwell, a former Asheville Citizen-Times reporter who is returning to cover the environment in Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. She’ll be based in Greenville, S.C., the home of the Greenville News, which, like the Citizen-Times, is owned by Gannett. She was an aggressive, award-winning reporter during her C-T stint, where she was a favorite of then-editor Bob Gabordi. She did an excellent job.

Paul Newby II, who is listed on the newspaper’s photog twitter account, @avlphotos. He has more than 21 years of experience in photojournalism, according to his website.

Also, on Thursday, Asheville Citizen-Times cops/crime reporter Romando Dixson tweeted that the day was his last in Asheville and that he would be headed to work for the Greenville News. I’m assuming someone will be hired or appointed to fill Romando’s beat, because crime is such a high-click topic for a click-hungry editor and newsroom. Romando, who has been at the newspaper for I don’t know, seven years or so, did a great job on an often thankless beat, working mostly nights.


Matt October 23, 2014 - 8:14 am

Nice to hear you call out that CT article by Cronin, Jason. I definitely raised my eyebrows when I read the headline, but then seeing the content of the article contradict it, I was a little peeved. I can’t help but think the new guy is just trying to sound tough and ‘investigative.’ At the expensive journalistic integrity. Hopefully he’ll calm down.

Do you know if he has a thing for targeting environmental groups ? Or is he an equal opportunity exaggerater?

Tonya Maxwell October 23, 2014 - 6:42 am

Sandford! Kind of you to say nice things about me, except that last statement, which does not ring a bell at all.

As stated, I am the environmental reporter for both papers and am in the process of making as many introductions as I can, so I’ll do the same here. If your readers have items of the environmental persuasion that ought to be covered, don’t hesitate to contact me.

I’m at tmaxwell [at] I believe I’ll have an ACT address in the very near future, but this will do for now. I can respond with a phone number. Know that while I will be splitting my time, I live in and love these mountains. If I don’t get back to you right away, there’s a decent probability I’m lost somewhere in Pisgah, temporarily outside the reach of the digital world.

Melissa October 23, 2014 - 11:14 am

Rings a bell over here! For me, ’twas unforgettable! 😉

Sean October 26, 2014 - 2:19 pm

Welcome back, Tonya!

Richard Parker October 22, 2014 - 8:38 pm

but good to see a full-time enviro slot: give ’em hell!

thomas fraser October 22, 2014 - 8:36 pm

But I do like the thought of a full-time environment reporter up in there. Been missing tooooooo long.

Richard Parker October 22, 2014 - 8:35 pm

Westerners? WTF? and, of course, why did they dump those jobs a year ago and replace them?

Melissa October 22, 2014 - 5:14 pm

It’ll be good to work with Maxwell again.

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