Houston Chronicle editor: Vernon Loeb and I both have a relentless optimism for the future of journalism

Here is Houston Chronicle editor Nancy Barnes’ memo about Vernon Loeb leaving the Washington Post to become managing editor at the Hearst-owned paper.

* Loeb, 57, will begin his new role in Houston on Jan. 15 (chron.com)

Dec. 11, 2013

To the staff:

Nancy Barnes

Nancy Barnes

It is with great pleasure that I share the news that Vernon Loeb, metro editor of the Washington Post, will join the Houston Chronicle as managing editor on January 15. I know I told many of you that I wasn’t necessarily in a hurry to fill that role, unless I found just the right person for this newsroom. In Vernon, I’m sure you will agree that I have.

The first job of any great managing editor is to champion the journalists in the room and their work, and to help everyone reach a little (or a lot) higher. Vernon has succeeded in doing that in every editing role he has undertaken, and by all reports, has brought unceasing energy and passion to his work./CONTINUES
When Vernon and I first started talking about him joining the Chronicle, I discovered that we shared at least one trait in common: a relentless optimism for the future of journalism. Some might even call it a stubborn optimism.  He also told me that he drew important lessons on how to lead, edit and drive hard every day from his mentors in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and DC., lessons he will bring with him to Texas as we recreate this newspaper.

Vernon began his career at the Philadelphia Inquirer, which he joined fresh from the journalism school at the University of North Carolina. He spent 16 years as a reporter, foreign correspondent and editor at the Inquirer, during its heyday under the direction of Eugene Roberts. He left Philadelphia in 1994 to join the Washington Post, his first stint, covering the dysfunctional administration of Marion Barry. He moved on to cover national security and then the Pentagon, which he was covering on September 11, 2001. After reporting on the war in Iraq, Vernon left The Post in 2004 to become California investigations editor at the Los Angeles Times, where his reporters were Pulitzer finalists in investigative reporting.

Vernon Loeb

Vernon Loeb

From there, he returned to The Philadelphia Inquirer, as deputy managing editor for news, where he helped direct a project team that won the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service for its investigation of violence in the city’s public school system. Under Loeb’s leadership, The Inquirer was also named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in National Reporting for a four-part series on the decline of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Vernon rejoined The Post in 2011 as metro editor, overseeing a staff of about 80 journalists, dedicated to covering the most important local stories across Virginia, the District, and Maryland.

Vernon is married to Patricia Ford Loeb, a reporter at KYW News Radio in Philadelphia. They have four children. Their oldest daughter, Kathryn, lives in New York. His son, David, is a senior at Temple University, and they have twin daughters, one at John’s Hopkins and one at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The twins are both highly competitive runners, a trait they may have inherited.  Vernon is a dedicated marathon runner, and was in Boston last spring, having crossed the finish line before the bombs went off.  He has co-authored several books, including King’s Counsel: A Memoir of War, Espionage, and Diplomacy in the Middle East (2011), All In: The Education of Gen. David H. Petraeus (2012) and Good Hunting: An American Spymaster’s Story (2014).

One more little detail: Vernon said he is happiest when it is really hot and he can wear his flip-flops.  Welcome to Houston, Vernon.