Stephen Smith, the top editor at the Washington Examiner, is leaving the publication after more than seven years. His last day will be Sept. 5. Hugo Gurdon, previously the editor of The Hill, is taking over the top slot. Smith writes by email that Gurdon originally came on as “editorial director,” and Smith was to remain as editor of the magazine. “But Hugo wants to put his own stamp on the publication, which is both right and proper,” Smith writes. “As a result, I thought it best to seek new challenges in journalism, publishing or a related field.” Smith does not yet have a new gig lined up.
Smith oversaw the Examiner as it transitioned in 2013 from a daily print tabloid, covering a mix of local news and national politics (including a gossip column, which I wrote for in 2012), to a glossy magazine focused exclusively on national politics. That transition included painful layoffs: 87 employees lost their jobs. The Examiner later staffed up with new hires to accommodate the new national focus of the publication.
Along with layoffs came a change in the Examiner‘s dress code. Former publisher Michael Phelps had implemented a policy that male staffers wear ties, an unusual requirement in many newsrooms today. That policy was phased out when the Examiner moved to its magazine form, but Smith never ceased wearing a tie every day.
He expressed optimism for the future of the Examiner, writing: “I leave with high hopes for the Examiner‘s success. Every voice in journalism is important, but particularly one with the Examiner‘s down-the-middle news coverage and right-of-center commentary (the latter overseen by Executive Editor Mark Tapscott).”
Due to a reporting error, this post originally misspelled the name of Hugo Gurdon. And due to a reporting error, this post originally stated that Smith required male staffers to wear ties. The publisher had actually implemented the policy, not Smith.