Big changes at Bay Windows

Bay Windows editor and FOMN (Friend of Media Nation) Susan Ryan-Vollmar is leaving the weekly newspaper and taking a top communications job with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.

Susan, with whom I had the pleasure to work at the Boston Phoenix for a number of years, will be succeeded by Laura Kiritsy. Like Susan, Kiritsy will edit both Bay Windows, which covers the gay-and-lesbian community in Greater Boston, and an affiliated neighborhood weekly, the South End News.

Here is the press release:

Bay Windows and South End News co-publishers Sue O’Connell and Jeff Coakley are pleased to announce that Laura Kiritsy has been named editor-in-chief for both newspapers. Former editor Susan Ryan-Vollmar will formally step down next week to take a position with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.

Kiritsy has been with the company since 2000. In 2002 she was named Associate Editor. Kiritsy’s tenure has been distinguished with important coverage of Beacon Hill politics. During the 2004 Constitutional Convention — the first of many to deal with the issue of civil marriage rights — Kiritsy broke the news of state Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera’s decision to come out publicly. She also broke the news of state Rep. Gene O’Flaherty and state Rep. John Rogers’s decisions to oppose any attempts to amend the state constitution to ban the marriages of same-sex couples. Her ongoing coverage of the New Hampshire presidential primary received national attention.

In 2004 she was awarded the Sarah Petit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. She also holds three awards for excellence in coverage of social issues and general news from the New England Press Association.

“Laura is uniquely qualified to edit both of our newspapers,” said co-publisher Jeff Coakley. “Her work is a critical component of what we do, and we’re looking forward to what she will accomplish with both papers and their websites.”

“Her weekly column on politics is a must-read for local activists and political insiders,” said co-publisher Sue O’Connell, who added that Kiritsy planned to continue writing the column.

Kiritsy said she was “honored” to be named editor-in-chief of Bay Windows and South End News. “I look forward to continuing the tradition of commitment to quality community journalism that has long distinguished both papers.”

Ryan-Vollmar was editor-in-chief of both papers for three years. During that time Bay Windows and South End News won 14 editorial awards from the New England Press Association including a special award for Bay Windows’s extensive coverage of the civil marriage rights debate.

“Susan Ryan-Vollmar raised the bar on what could be accomplished by a small, independently-owned publication covering a crucial local issue — gay marriage — that also held national importance,” said O’Connell. “Her work on the historic same-sex marriage battle was the best in the country.”

Bay Windows is New England’s largest weekly newspaper serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. South End News is a general-interest newspaper serving the South End neighborhood in Boston.

At the Phoenix, Susan was instrumental in overseeing Kristen Lombardi’s groundbreaking coverage of Cardinal Bernard Law’s involvement in the pedophile-priest scandal, as well as the Phoenix’s own coverage of same-sex marriage.

She also excelled in finding my ledes, usually buried about three-quarters of the way into a 3,000-word piece.

Susan’s move is a huge loss to the local media scene, but also a great opportunity for Laura, whom I do not know well, but who’s clearly accomplished a lot in the past few years.

7 thoughts on “Big changes at Bay Windows

  1. mike_b1

    Dan, nothing on Metro Intl soliciting offers for the money-losing Metro Boston? boston.com/ae/media/articles/2008/01/12/metro_puts_us_papers_up_for_sale/

  2. Jef

    Dan, there’s some big shakeups (lots of reporters leaving and bad blood apparently with the new owners) over at innewsweekly. I’d be interested to hear your take as a media analyst who is not a member of the community these papers serve on what’s going on in Boston’s GLBT media market. The online Edge network (http://www.edgeboston.com/) seems to be making some inroads at the expense of the weeklies.

  3. Lou

    As someone who worked at Bay Windows many years ago as a reporter, I can tell you that the chief reason people leave is the low pay. Weekly newspapers are not competitive, especially alt-weeklies. Sure, there are the occasional crazy bosses, but most folks accept that as part of the terrain. Eventually idealism gives way to practicality – you don’t want to be in your 30s living in Allston with roommates like you did in college. You need something better for yourself and your family. So you look for a job that allows you to cover a full month’s rent. Just reality, folks.

  4. liamstliam

    I am glad lou checked in.I was afraid I was going to have to post the obligatory comment bemoaning people leaving the business for the corporate world.And it’s not just weeklies.You want to bet she doubled her salary?Good on her.Nice hire by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, both on talent and good PR.

  5. Lissa Harris

    Hate to see good journos decamp for greener PR pastures, but more power to her. The gay press in general drives me batshit, but Bay Windows is solid, and SRV is talented people. She’s done a great job running that paper in its hour of glory.Best of luck to ’em both. (Especially Kiritsy. Alt-weeklies are dying; gay ones doubly so.)

  6. Lissa Harris

    P.S. Jef–Edge and Bay Windows made a content-sharing/co-ownership deal in ’06. http://www.echelonmagazine.com/news_bay.htmBW has a rep as the newsier, stodgier (er, more lesbian-oriented?) gay paper in town. Edge is all over the clubs and the infotainment. Probably a smart move.As for InNews–Jesus, that paper is a mess. The most recent round of walkouts is just another chapter in an ugly freelancer situation that’s been brewing for a long time over there. http://www.baywindows.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=glbt&sc2=news&sc3=&id=54301Tangentially-relevant gossipy subtext not mentioned in the above story: the freshly fired Bill Berggren resigned from the Pride Committee last summer after some Dig editor (cough, cough) reported that he was a registered sex offender. And current editor William Henderson is, er, married to a woman.

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