Kathryn Christensen, a senior producer for ABC television prime time news and a former editor with the Wall Street Journal, has been named managing editor of The Sun.
Christensen becomes the first woman managing editor in The Sun's 154-year history, and one of just 15 women managing editors at comparable American newspapers. She replaces James Houck, who resigned May 15. She is expected to start work Aug. 1.
"I think virtually everything attracts me about this job," Christensen said during a brief telephone interview yesterday from her office at ABC News in New York.
"I have been in newspapers a lot of years and I loved them," she said. "This is one newspaper everyone in the business is interested in. It's a newspaper with a lot of history and tradition."
Christensen, 42, worked nearly 11 years years at the Wall Street Journal before moving to ABC News in January 1990.
"We want a newspaper that's first-class in every way," said John S. Carroll, editor of The Sun and The Evening Sun, "in writing, photography, enterprise and editing. I think she is the kind of editor who can oversee such a rebuilding. She sets high standards and won't settle for anything less than first-rate work."
Christensen had the reputation of an aggressive, hard-driving, challenging editor at the Wall Street Journal.
Dennis Kneale, a deputy news editor at the Journal, said the three years he worked for Christensen were "the most intense work years in my life."
"I was just challenged by her all the time to do good work and to PTC do hard work," Kneale said. He worked for Christensen when she was New York news editor for the Journal.
She joined the Journal as a reporter in the Dallas bureau in July 1979. She subsequently was a reporter in San Francisco, Boston bureau chief, New York news editor, London bureau chief and senior editor.
"I was told by editors at the Wall Street Journal that she had been an outstanding editor there," Carroll said. "They said she'd make an excellent managing editor. They're sorry to have lost her."
He said The Sun sought her out. Christensen said she was immediately interested.
ABC News reportedly had courted her two years before hiring her in January 1990. She's now one of six top people at ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. She was heavily involved in ABC's coverage of the Persian Gulf war and the Mideast.
"She's consistently challenging herself," Kneale said. "The paper's got to get better."
Christensen comes to The Sun at a time when considerable changes in style and form of coverage are planned.
"That's what news is," she said. "Newspapers change every day. Things aren't monumental. . . .
"I just think it's a wonderful opportunity. [The Sun] is a newspaper that wants to make some changes and wants to keep some things that make it good."
But she cautioned that "no one person sets the tone of a newspaper." The key to a good newspaper, she said, is a working collaboration between editors and reporters.
She declined to express a preference for either television or print journalism.
"I like what I'm doing now very much, but I believe I want to do this next," she said. "I like journalism; each is a different kind of journalism. I have been happy here. I'll expect to be happy there."
Her first job in journalism was at the Des Moines Register, where she was a court and city hall reporter. She then worked at the Chicago Daily News until it closed, when she moved to the Chicago Sun Times as a marketing columnist in the financial section. She was a business section reporter at the Charlotte News briefly before joining the Wall Street Journal.
She graduated in 1971 from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor of arts. She's single and lives now in New York City.