The McClatchy Co. on Wednesday named Debra Leithauser as president and publisher of the Centre Daily Times.
Leithauser has been the top editor at McClatchy-Tribune Information Services since May 2012. MCT is the Washington, D.C.-based wire service operated jointly by The McClatchy Co. and the Chicago-based Tribune Co., with some 1,200 clients worldwide.
Leithauser, 43, begins work at the Centre Daily Times on Jan. 13. She succeeds Susan Leath, who left the paper in October.
Before joining MCT, Leithauser spent nearly a decade as an editor at The Washington Post, overseeing a variety of print and digital content. She was editor of the Post’s online GoingOutGuide and the print entertainment section Weekend. She previously served as editor of The Washington Post Magazine, published on Sundays.
“Debra is a dynamic and energetic leader. She is a wonderful match for an ambitious paper serving a vibrant university community in State College,” said Pat Talamantes, McClatchy’s president and CEO. “Debra’s digital experience and news values will serve the paper and the community equally well.”
At MCT, Leithauser overhauled the wire service to meet the increasing digital needs of client newsrooms, including offering interactive graphics, videos and photo galleries. She redesigned the website, www.mctdirect.com, for improved speed and user experience, increased client communications and led MCT’s recent acquisition of the Scripps Howard News Service. Since June, she has been co-chairwoman of a McClatchy-wide initiative to enhance and expand the company’s product development efforts.
“Debra’s commitment to high-quality journalism is evident throughout her career and aligns perfectly with McClatchy’s core values,” said Bob Weil, McClatchy vice president, operations, who oversees the Centre Daily Times and 13 other newspapers and their affiliated operations. “But Debra has also acquired a wealth of strategic and business experience along the way, particularly in the digital arena. I believe advertisers and the local business community will discover a tremendous asset in Debra.”
Leithauser was born into a military family and raised primarily in Hawaii and Florida. She graduated from the University of Florida with honors and a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
She began her journalism career at the Orlando Sentinel, where she worked as a copy editor, reporter and editor. She directed the paper’s weekly teen section for three years before becoming assistant editor for its Sunday magazine.
In 1998, Leithauser moved for the first time to the MCT wire service, then known as Knight Ridder-Tribune Information Services.
She spent five years there before moving to The Washington Post in 2003 to help the paper launch a venture aimed at attracting younger readers.
She rejoined MCT in 2012 as its top executive and will continue oversight of the news service in 2014 until a permanent leadership structure is in place.
“I’m excited to join the ranks of the Centre Daily Times, a paper that does such a terrific job serving its readers and advertisers,” Leithauser said. “I believe there’s the potential to do even more in the community and to expand its digital products. I look forward to working with such a strong team.”
Leithauser and her husband, Tom, have two sons, Luke, 10, and Zack, 5.