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Cheryl Carpenter named to lead McClatchy Washington Bureau

New McClatchy Washington bureau chief discusses future for team

The McClatchy Company named Cheryl Carpenter D.C. bureau chief on Wednesday. The former managing editor of the Charlotte Observer will replace James Asher. Carpenter will start on Nov. 30.
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The McClatchy Company named Cheryl Carpenter D.C. bureau chief on Wednesday. The former managing editor of the Charlotte Observer will replace James Asher. Carpenter will start on Nov. 30.

Cheryl Carpenter, managing editor of The Charlotte Observer for the past decade, is taking over as McClatchy’s Washington bureau chief.

Carpenter replaces James Asher, who is leaving to join Injustice Watch, an investigative journalism startup.

Carpenter is a veteran newsroom leader who oversaw work that won two prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards and three projects honored as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.

“We’re privileged to have the kind of talent that both Jim and Cheryl give us in the important work we do at the bureau,” said McClatchy CEO Pat Talamantes. “As we make this transition, I want to thank Jim for his service and welcome Cheryl to a position that we know will be a terrific fit.”

Carpenter said she is excited to shape the Washington Bureau’s contribution to McClatchy’s 29 newspapers across the nation, which include The Sacramento Bee, the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C.

“It’s a great time to be in Washington,” Carpenter said. “This is an adventure to try to figure out how we make things that happen in Washington meaningful to the readers in the McClatchy markets.”

Carpenter has been a Pulitzer judge, presented at national and international journalism events, and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She recently helped lead McClatchy’s reshaping of print and digital efforts to be more competitive and responsive to readers.

She brings to the bureau an enormous amount of talent and a keen interest in being vigilant in Washington.

James Asher, outgoing Washington bureau chief

Carpenter joins the Washington Bureau at a time of change. She’ll work with other editors to implement a previously announced reorganization to put emphasis on regional news and national stories of particular impact to McClatchy’s communities. Changes include closure of five foreign bureaus, with foreign correspondents offered leading roles in Washington, and more resources dedicated to regional coverage. No layoffs are planned.

Asher, a longtime investigative reporter and editor who has been McClatchy’s Washington bureau chief for the past five years, said Carpenter is the right person to take over the position.

“She brings to the bureau an enormous amount of talent and a keen interest in being vigilant in Washington,” Asher said. “She’s had her fingers on some very important stories for the Charlotte paper, which is one of the best in the chain.”

Carpenter starts Nov. 30. Asher will remain at the bureau until the end of the year, then part time through February to finish ongoing projects. He’ll then join Injustice Watch, “which will focus on issues related to the criminal justice system, inequality, poverty and race across America.”

Carpenter has a deep journalism background. She has held nearly every job in a newsroom, starting as a reporter for her hometown newspaper, the Gaston (N.C.) Gazette, where her coverage ranged from the police beat to politics. She joined The Charlotte Observer 32 years ago, taking on positions from copy editor to state editor to business editor on her path to managing editor.

Carpenter said she takes pride in powerful storytelling and holding government officials accountable.

She said some of the most challenging and rewarding stories that she’s worked on revealed the values and motivations of the people who make the decisions that affect people’s lives.

“I’m honored to join this team,” she said. “The D.C. bureau’s reputation for insightful journalism is a great legacy to build on.”

Sean Cockerham: 202-383-6016, @seancockerham

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