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As new editor imposes 'a new vision,' columnist Ken Herman exits the Austin American-Statesman

The Austin American-Statesman's Ken Herman (left), pictured with former host of the Statesman Shots podcast, Tolly Moseley, is leaving the publication after a "new vision" was announced by editor Manny Garcia. (I Love You So Much- The Austin 360 Podcast/Facebook)

Ken Herman, the Austin American-Statesman's columnist for the past 12 years, announced his departure Sunday in a graciously-worded report that nonetheless revealed differences between Herman and the new Statesman editor Manny Garcia.

Herman, 67, said Garcia "brings new energy and focus at a time when both of those are valued. He has a different vision from the one I have for the job I now hold. His is a good vision, one that will benefit this newspaper."

Garcia told Austonia he had "great respect for the work that Ken has done" and "really valued his work." When asked whether there was a disagreement between the two of them, Garcia said, "I do not comment on any personnel decisions beyond (saying) that I have great respect for Ken and the work he has done."

Garcia, 61, became editor and vice president of the Statesman in February after leading ProPublica's Austin-based investigative partnership with the Texas Tribune. Earlier in his career, he served as senior editor of The Miami Herald, the head of el Nuevo Herald and then executive editor of the Naples (Fla.) Daily News. He was a regional executive for Gannett, a media company that owns more than 260 brands in 46 states. Gannett now owns the Statesman. Garcia also served as head of standards and ethics for the USA Today Network.

Over more than 25 years with the Statesman, Herman served as a political reporter, headed state Capitol coverage and was the paper's Washington correspondent during the presidency of George W. Bush, who was known to kid with Herman at press conferences. Bush once jokingly admonished Herman for wearing a worn-out seersucker suit.

"It's been a wonderfully broad portfolio that's allowed me to write about whatever interested me in hopes that it would interest you and the editors. In 12 years of column writing, there have been politics, sports, obits, weird stuff, happy stuff, sad stuff and the unrivaled joy and optimism of centenarians jumping out of airplanes," Herman said.

While Herman said he expected great things to come from the Statesman, he said "the business model that produced so much profit and so much employment for so long is so kaput, disrupted into a new frontier in which success is far from assured and must be earned."

At its peak in the late 1990s under publisher Michael Laosa, the Statesman employed 1,100 people--including more than 200 in the newsroom--and had a circulation of 190,000 daily and 220,000 Sunday papers.

The newspaper was then owned by Cox Newspapers Inc.

Current Statesman print circulation and overall readership numbers were not immediately available, but Garcia said digital subscriptions were at 27,000, up 7,000 since January.


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