Sun managing editor leaving for ABC Christensen joined newspapers in '91

August 04, 1993|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,Staff Writer

Kathryn Christensen, The Baltimore Sun's managing editor for FTC the last two years, resigned yesterday to join ABC Television as senior broadcast producer and managing editor of the network's "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings."

Ms. Christensen, the first female managing editor in the papers' 156-year history, served in the No. 2 editorial position at The Sun, under John S. Carroll, editor and senior vice president.

It was Mr. Carroll who recruited Ms. Christensen from ABC's premier news show in 1991 to oversee The Sun's daily news coverage.

Ms. Christensen told surprised senior news editors of her decision to leave the papers at an afternoon meeting. In a statement issued to the staff minutes later, Mr. Carroll praised his managing editor's tenure at the paper.

"During her two years here, Kathy has made innumerable contributions toward a better Baltimore Sun. These two years have been unusually difficult ones for The Sun and for newspapers generally," said Mr. Carroll. "In spite of the adversities, The Sun has made substantial journalistic progress. I know the newsroom staff -- and others throughout the company -- will want to join me in thanking Kathy for her fine work and wish her well at ABC."

Mr. Carroll noted Ms. Christensen's assistance in helping to implement several major changes at the newspapers. Those included the merger of the editorial staffs of the morning and evening newspapers, a company buyout last year that drained the newsroom of 78 reporters and editors, and the move to daily zoning of the newspapers' suburban editions.

"She put her shoulder to the wheel and got those things done," said Mr. Carroll. "It was two years, but in the newspaper business for many people it was like five."

Ms. Christensen, 44, will leave the newspaper Aug. 13. She expects to start her new job in New York in September.

In a statement released to the staff, Ms. Christensen described the Sun newsroom as "unsurpassed in its commitment to creating a great newspaper" and noted that "we've done a lot of journalism we ought to be proud of."

"The editors and reporters I've worked with have been nothing less than committed to what we wanted to do," Ms. Christensen said.

Martin Kaiser, the newspapers' deputy managing editor, who worked closely with Ms. Christensen, said, "She is an outstanding journalist, and the newspaper is going to miss her."

Mr. Carroll said no decision has been made on her replacement but that he will discuss newsroom operations later in the week.

In her statement to the staff, Ms. Christensen mentioned a number of projects that she considered major accomplishments. Among those were a grim yet poignant account of Somalia's famine victims, stories chronicling the business troubles of Orioles owner Eli Jacobs and the record-breaking sale of the Baltimore Orioles, the opening of the city's new baseball stadium with the two-tiered name, the deterioration of an inner-city public housing complex, the political undoing of District Judge John S. Arnick and the rise of an Arkansas governor to the presidency.

At the time Ms. Christensen accepted the job at The Sun, her colleague Peter Jennings said he tried to persuade her to stay at the network.

"Kathy was one of the smartest, most creative, most conscientious,certainly most hard-working, that we ever had on this broadcast, and when she went away I was devastated," Mr. Jennings said yesterday from his office in New York, "so having her back is really good for us and, I hope, good for her."

A former senior editor at the Wall Street Journal who has spent most of her career in newspapers, Ms. Christensen had been at ABC for 18 months when she took the job at The Sun.

Yesterday, she said she has always remained in touch with her friends and associates there.

"When this came up," she said, referring to the new job at ABC, "it was something I couldn't say no to, and it really excites me. . . . For me, it's always been where the challenges and the commitment and the people I work with are, and it doesn't matter the medium."

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