Nancy Barnes, the executive editor of The Houston Chronicle, will be the new senior vice president of news and the editorial director at NPR, a position last officially held by Michael Oreskes, who resigned last November amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Ms. Barnes, 57, who is also the executive editor for Hearst Texas Newspapers, will start on Nov. 28. She will take over from Chris Turpin, who has held the role temporarily. He will become vice president for editorial innovation and newsroom development, the public radio network said on Tuesday.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity to work at NPR,” Ms. Barnes said. “It’s a great opportunity to grow and do something a little bit different and still serve the great journalistic work.”
In a statement, Jarl Mohn, NPR’s president and chief executive, said, “Nancy has the news judgment to guide our storytelling, believes in the power of the NPR mission, sees the tremendous opportunity in unifying NPR and member station newsrooms, and has the business acumen to think creatively about how we can bring our journalism to even more eyes and ears.”
Under the leadership of Ms. Barnes, The Houston Chronicle won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2015, was a finalist in 2017 for a series on how the Texas state government, through arbitrary budget cuts, denied special education services to tens of thousands of students, and a finalist again this year for its coverage of Hurricane Harvey.
Before Ms. Barnes came to Houston, she was the executive editor at The Minneapolis Star Tribune Media Company. The paper won a Pulitzer in 2013 for its reporting on a rise in infant deaths at poorly regulated day-care homes.
“I am a particular believer in exclusive, enterprise and investigative journalism that make a difference in people’s lives,” Ms. Barnes said.
Although Ms. Barnes said she had no immediate plans to make changes, she did eventually hope to bolster those areas at NPR. “I’d like to bring a little bit more firepower to explosive enterprise stories,” she said.
Ms. Barnes’s appointment is the latest instance of a woman being named to a high-profile media position previously held by a man who was ousted after accusations of harassment or misconduct. In March, the radio station WNYC, an NPR affiliate, named Tanzina Vega the host of “The Takeaway,” a role held for a decade by John Hockenberry, who resigned after several women accused him of sexual harassment and bullying behavior. In April, Emily Nemens took over as editor of The Paris Review, months after its previous editor, Lorin Stein, resigned under a cloud of allegations.
“I’ve been talking to people for several months and it’s clear that this caused a lot of pain throughout the organization,” Ms. Barnes said. “I know it doesn’t happen overnight but I think part of my job in the first couple of months is listening to people’s concerns and hearing about the issues they had and try to find solution to them and move ahead to be a great news organization. I that’s what we all want ultimately.”