Florida Today staff stunned by editor’s sudden departure after ‘morale-boosting’ meeting

Bob Stover, longtime executive editor of Florida Today, thought his staff needed their spirits lifted so he arranged what became dubbed “Pie Day” in the newsroom. The plan was to have the Gannett paper’s journalists bake pies and other treats to share on Thursday.

Bob Stover

Bob Stover

I’m told that Stover was in a meeting on Wednesday afternoon, discussing today’s morale-boosting event, when he was summoned to the publisher’s office. One staffer tells me the newsroom heard raised voices and “the next thing you know he walks out saying he just resigned.”

Stover, 66, tweeted: “Just resigned after 22 great years as an editor at Florida Today. Leaving great colleagues to carry on their fine work.”

Sports reporter Erika Esola tweeted: “I don’t think I’ve ever heard an entire newsroom gasp before.”

“A lot of us were in tears,” a reporter tells me.

What happened? Nobody is saying. Publisher Jeff Kiel was in his office when I called this morning, according to his secretary, but he wouldn’t take my call. Stover hasn’t responded to my requests for comment, and interim editor Mara Bellaby hasn’t returned my calls.

One of my tipsters writes in an email: “A reporter asked [Kiel] if Stover’s resignation was voluntary. The publisher paused and then said he would be unable to answer that question.”

Another reporter wonders if Stover refused to make additional staff cuts. That person calls the executive editor’s departure – in the middle of a morale-boosting meeting – “totally ironic [because] what he did was the worst thing for morale.”

I’m told the newsroom still enjoyed homemade pies today. Lottery tickets were handed out at lunch, and the staff agreed to split the winnings and quit if they hit the jackpot.

* Do you have information about Stover’s departure? Email me at jim@jimromenesko.com. I’ll protect you, of course.

* Bob Stover resigns as Florida Today executive editor (floridatoday.com)
* Stover’s resignation tweet and reactions to it (@editorbobstover)

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