Empire names new managing editor

Posted: Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Michael Plett, a five-year veteran of the Juneau Empire and its interim managing editor since April, has been named managing editor by Publisher Robert Hale.

Plett joined the Juneau Empire in June 2003 as a copy editor and page designer. During his time at the Empire, he has filled many roles, including stints as editor of the paper's Neighbors, Opinion and Hooligan sections.

In 2006 he became the design editor, supervising the Empire's page designers and copy editors. In that year he was one of the key members involved with the launch of Hooligan, the Empire's weekly entertainment section designed to attract 18- to 35-year-old readers.

In 2007, Plett joined the Empire's editorial board, collaborating in the process of writing editorials. He also attended manager training at the Maynard Media Academy, hosted by the Neiman Foundation at Harvard University.

Earlier this year, he was selected as a fellow for the Knight Digital Media Center's technology workshop for editors. In April, Plett assumed the role of interim managing editor when Lori Thomson stepped down as managing editor after four and a half years.

"For the past four months, in his role as interim managing editor, Mr. Plett has done a rather good job of leading our newsroom and guiding coverage of Juneau and Southeast," Hale said. "His appointment as full-time managing editor gave us the chance once again to promote from within our organization, as we did with Lori Thomson in late 2003, and to further invest in the professional growth and development of one who has been a key part of our newsroom for the past few years.

"Mike is fortunate in that he's working with perhaps the best group of reporters and editors we've had on my watch, which also dates back to 2003."

Plett grew up in Northern California and graduated with a journalism degree from Humboldt State University. His first newspaper job was as a sports intern at the Redding Record Searchlight. He worked as a reporter and editor at a series of weeklies before attending HSU. After graduating, he worked for three years as a graphic artist for the Modesto Bee. Plett took a break from journalism and worked as a cartographer for a year and half before joining the Empire.

At the Empire, Plett has won a number of Alaska Press Club awards for page design, graphics and illustration. He also won a pair of first-place awards for news design from the Society of Professional Journalists' Northwest Region, as well as three Best of Morris Awards.

In his time away from work, Plett enjoys spending time with his wife, Jiangning Ma, as well as kayaking, swimming, skiing, watching movies and reading.

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