Karen Bordeleau, who rose to become The Providence Journal's first female executive editor during a 20-year career at the newspaper, is leaving Fountain Street after slightly more than two years in the post.
According to a report in the Journal, Bordeleau "will retire effective Friday, Sept. 4, to pursue other career opportunities, publisher Janet Hasson announced on Thursday." Deputy executive editor Susan Areson will serve as the interim editor "while the company conducts a search for Bordeleau’s replacement."
The relatively short length of Bordeleau's tenure as executive editor is fueling speculation that GateHouse Media, which last year completed its acquisition of the ProJo, sought her departure. Bordeleau did not respond to a request for comment from RIPR.
“Despite the turbulence and deep cuts in our industry, I am very proud of the work we have accomplished here," Bordeleau told the ProJo's G. Wayne Miller. "The people who work for The Providence Journal, particularly the journalists and photojournalists, work for Rhode Islanders, too. They shine lights in dark place. They put events in context. Without them, this state would be a decidedly different place.”
Bordeleau took the helm of the ProJo from Tom Heslin, who retired in early 2013.
Former Journal investigative reporter Mike Stanton, now a journalism professor at the University of Connecticut, notes that Bordeleau became the paper's leader during a tough time "in the middle between the past and the future" of the institution. "I think she was a good public face for the newspaper," he said.
Stanton said Bordeleau was a strong line editor in the time before she took on a newsroom management role in 2011. "She was terrific," he said, recalling her efforts on a series that became the spine for his Buddy Cianci book. "She caught things and she made it better."
Bordeleau is the second Journal executive to leave Fountain Street in recent weeks, following the departure of vice president of sales and marketing Scott Connolly.
Like other newspapers, the Journal has faced shrinking print readership and declining advertising revenue due to the rise of the Internet.
Bordeleau, a board member of the New England First Amendment Coalition, has been an adjunct professor at Emerson College in Boston, and she was also known for conceiving the Journal's Publick Occurences discussion series.
Providence Newspaper Guild president John Hill said that a Guild perspective, Bordeleau was always respectful and concerned with the best interests of the Journal.