- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2002

Francis B. Coombs Jr., 50, was named managing editor of The Washington Times yesterday, succeeding William E. Giles, 72, who retired after four years in that position.
Mr. Coombs joined The Times in 1987 as assistant national editor. He then became the national editor and built and guided the staff that has become known for its exclusives, particularly in defense and national-security affairs, and aggressive pursuit of the news in an environment that has become ever more competitive.
"Fran was the inevitable managing editor, almost from the day he walked into the newsroom," said Wesley Pruden, the editor in chief of The Times, who made the appointment. "He relishes the 24-hour news cycle, finding stories first and leaving the competition to follow. He expects everyone to keep up, and understands that that's what makes working on a newspaper fun. He's the perfect fit for The Times. Our readers expect to get it first and get it right, the news without fear or favor for partisan advantage, and Fran will see that they will."
Said Mr. Coombs: "Following in Bill Giles' footsteps won't be an easy task. But Wes and I have worked together for 15 years now, and I share his vision of a newspaper that's serious about the business of news. Getting it first and getting it right is what it's all about and having lots of fun doing it."
He was born in Fort Campbell, Ky., and grew up in Kentucky, Massachusetts, Virginia and Germany. He's a graduate of the College of William and Mary. A hands-on manager with an investigative eye, he was founding editor of Words by Wire, a national news syndication service, and before that was a reporter for two Virginia newspapers, the Winchester Evening Star and the Roanoke Times & World News.
Mr. Coombs was named assistant managing editor in April 1994 and deputy managing editor in September 1997 before his appointment yesterday.
Mr. Giles, who came to the Times in 1997, epitomizes the traditional newspaperman who combines disinterested news judgment with a commitment to credibility. He was managing editor of the Southwest edition of the Wall Street Journal, and editor of the old National Observer, the national weekly newspaper published by Dow Jones & Co. He later became editor and vice president of the Detroit News, which won the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 1982 during his tenure. He returns this morning to his home in London, Ky.
Mr. Coombs begins his new job this morning, meeting with other editors and newspaper executives at an annual review and planning session in Pennsylvania.


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