The Chattanooga Times Free Press today named former reporter J. Todd Foster as its executive editor.
Foster, 49, is currently the editor of the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier, which recently won journalism’s highest honor, the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
“Todd is a seasoned veteran of the newspaper industry with strong, award-winning editorial expertise and a solid record of performance,” said Walter Hussman, Jr. chairman and chief executive officer of WEHCO Media Inc., the Little Rock, Ark.-based parent company of the Times Free Press. “He brings extensive experience in managing a newsroom and producing quality journalism.”
Added Jason Taylor, president of the Times Free Press: “We are excited to have a journalist of Todd’s caliber leading our newsroom. Todd is passionate about the role good journalism plays in a community and combines a depth of experience with a love for Chattanooga.”
Foster was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985-89 and then worked as an investigative reporter at the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal; The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash.; The Oregonian in Portland; and People magazine.
Foster was the first reporter at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, when white separatist Randy Weaver holed up against federal agents in an 11-day siege that left three dead. The Spokane paper was a Pulitzer finalist for its Ruby Ridge coverage.
Foster transitioned into editing in early 2003, when he took the top job at The News Virginian in Waynesboro, Va.
“I was covering the sniper shootings for People in Washington, D.C., when my first child was born,” Foster said. “I had to perform the toughest of journalistic duties – interviewing the survivors of murder victims – while worrying about my family getting shot on the way from the hospital to the car with a newborn. That experience led me away from the big city and to a new career as an editor. And that eventually led me back to Chattanooga, where I got my first job at a daily newspaper. I love this city, and have wanted to return ever since.”
Foster said among the job’s attractions was WEHCO’s commitment to its employees and readers.
“It is an honor to join a company that puts readers, and not shareholders, as its top priority,” he said. “Ours is a public trust. My goal is to live up to the paper’s motto: ‘To give the news impartially, without fear or favor.’ ”