James I. Houck, managing editor of The Sun since 1982, announced his resignation yesterday -- the latest in a series of upper-management changes at The Baltimore Sun.
Mr. Houck, 49, said he is ready to do something else after nine years at The Sun's helm. He also noted that his departure will make it easier for John S. Carroll, editor of The Sun and The Evening Sun, to reorganize the newspaper's leadership.
"I came here nine years ago with the intention of staying five," said Mr. Houck, who plans to take some time off to consider what "I should be doing with the last third of my working life."
Mr. Carroll said he hopes to hire a new managing editor within the next month and will consider candidates from inside and outside the company. He chose assistant managing editor Martin Kaiser to run the paper in the interim.
Mr. Houck's resignation follows two other major personnel changes at Maryland's largest newspaper in the last nine months.
In September, Michael J. Davies succeeded Reg Murphy as publisher. In February, Mr. Davies named Mr. Carroll to the newly created post of senior vice president and editor.
The new executives are planning a major revision of local news coverage, including the merger of some morning, evening and suburban reporting and editing staffs.
In a statement released yesterday, Mr. Davies wished Mr. Houck well and praised his performance.
"Jim has done yeoman work for The Sun for almost a decade," Mr. Davies said. "As he leaves, he can take great satisfaction in the fact that the paper improved significantly during his stewardship."
Mr. Houck, a native of Bakersfield, Calif., started his career as a copy editor at the San Francisco Examiner in 1963. He was an associate managing editor at the Dallas Morning News before becomingmanaging editor of The Sun on March 15, 1982.
During his years at the newspaper, Mr. Houck expanded The Sun's coverage of business, sports and features in an effort to appeal to more readers. New sections, including Travel, Today in Style, Maryland Live, Maryland Business Weekly, O.C. (Ocean City) and To Your Health were added throughout the 1980s.
"I think this has become a broader, more cosmopolitan newspaper serving a wider range of interests," Mr. Houck said.
In his farewell memo to the staff, Mr. Houck congratulated reportersand editors on their coverage of the state's savings and loan crisis, the death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias, the 1988 Amtrak train crash, the deterioration of tTC Baltimore's public schools and other major stories. He also praised the newspaper's foreign correspondents for their coverage of the Persian Gulf war, the Soviet Union and the massacre near Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Although his future plans remain uncertain, Mr. Houck said he would like to remain in the Baltimore area. He and his wife, Trish, who have three children, live in Ellicott City.