MaineToday Media announced Thursday that Managing Editor Cliff Schechtman has been promoted to executive editor of its newspapers and associated web sites.

Schechtman was hired as managing editor of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram in October from Newsday in Long Island, N.Y., where he was associate editor. Before that, Schechtman worked throughout the Northeast, helping to run a number of community newspapers.

He will oversee the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, as well as the Portland newspapers.

The company also announced that Pat Sweeney, chief financial officer since May, has been promoted to the position of chief operating officer.

The changes are designed to facilitate the newspapers’ transition to new technology and the changing nature of news gathering and distribution, said interim Chief Executive Officer Neil Heyside, who made the announcement to staff.

Schechtman helped lead Newsday’s transition to a source of breaking news on the web and will play a key role in the Maine company’s growth strategy, Heyside said.

“The executive editor has to be able to not just determine the structure of the story but he now has to know about how the story is deployed,” Heyside said, referring to the continually evolving formats for news, from the Internet to smart phones to tablets. Also, the opportunities to augment stories are unprecedented, he said, including video, social media and interactive websites.

Schechtman has the experience and leadership skills to motivate the staff to embrace the changes in collection and delivery of content, he said.

Schechtman, 56, takes over for Scott Wasser, who was executive editor since the company was acquired two and a half years ago from the Seattle Times Co. and who hired Schechtman to oversee the newsroom.

Wasser’s departure was by mutual consent, the company said.

The management changes come one week after the media company announced an infusion of cash from S. Donald Sussman of North Haven, a financier who is one of the state’s leading philanthropists and political donors. Sussman’s company Maine Values LLC, loaned MaineToday Media between $3 million and $4 million in exchange for a stake in the company.

The changes were not directly related to the investment, Schechtman said Friday, but the working capital loan created the stability for the company to make personnel changes.

Schechtman said at the time that the investment would allow the company to become more ambitious in its journalism, while preserving its core mission.

“A community gets the newspaper it deserves, and I think this community deserves a probing, compelling newspaper that can at times be a positive force for change,” he said Friday.

At Newsday, Schechtman managed a much larger news organization, but he said his core values come from community journalism. Previously, he was managing editor at The Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and editor of the Cape Cod Times.

“I learned a lot at Newsday working with some superb journalists and I hope to bring some of that here, to sharpen the journalism,” he said.

One of the projects he spearheaded at Newsday analyzed safety problems in New York’s commuter rail system, the largest in the country, that had contributed to numerous injuries. The 2007 series led to major safety upgrades and was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service journalism.

“For me, the highest calling is public service journalism,” Schechtman said.

The company has not decided whether the position of managing editor will be filled. Schechtman said he would like to devote those resources to adding journalists at MaineToday Media.

MaineToday Media owns and operates the Portland Press Herald, the Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal, the Morning Sentinel, and the Coastal Journal, as well as digital properties such as mainetoday.com and Maine Jobs and Raising Maine.


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