The Providence Journal has hired the former editor-in-chief of Digital First Media as its new executive editor, the paper reported Wednesday.
David J. Butler spoke in the ProJo newsroom and is due to formally start on the job next month. His more than four decades in the news business includes serving as top editor of Digital First Media, a group of 75 papers including the San Jose Mercury News.
“It's no secret that newsrooms across the country are challenged to keep up with the fast-paced world of social media and evolving reader platforms, but one thing remains constant,” ProJo publisher Janet Hasson said in the newspaper's account of Butler's selection. “A statewide newspaper and website such as The Journal can play a critical role in providing Rhode Island residents useful information and thought-provoking journalism. I am confident Dave will provide that leadership in The Journal newsroom to meet our changing environment, yet retain our mission as the leading Rhode Island media source.”
Butler was named Digital First's top editor in April 2014. He was previously editor and publisher of The Detroit News, and editor of The New Haven Register. By August 2015, Butler said he planned to retire this fall, and it was reported that his wife, Kate Lee Butler, national vice president for membership and local markets, and he planned to stay in San Jose.
Some of the themes sounded by Butler in a June 2015 memo -- the need to better engage readers and to reconsider old news rules -- remain relevant as the ProJo and other papers face the challenges posed by the Internet.