Wesley Pruden, who joined The Times as a reporter in the newspaper’s infancy and became editor in chief 16 years ago, retired yesterday. John F. Solomon, an award-winning investigative journalist and editor, yesterday was named to succeed him with the title of executive editor.
“Our friend and colleague Wesley Pruden is leaving us,” said Thomas P. McDevitt, president of The Washington Times, “though we expect his column, ‘Pruden on Politics,’ to continue to appear in the paper. And while our newsroom is facile, tough and original, it will never be the same without Wes, who built the editorial foundations of this paper with the insight, wisdom and can-do spirit of a veteran newspaperman.
“John Solomon’s appointment is a great step forward for us. He is a working journalist, innovative manager and skilled leader who can navigate a complicated media landscape while maintaining traditional news values and credibility.”
In a note to the staff, Mr. Pruden said, “All good things come to an end, and so I take my leave. They said we would last six weeks, and now, a quarter of a century later, the newspaper is stronger, brighter, bolder than ever, and the newspaper is embarked on great change.”
Mr. Solomon, 41, assumes his official duties Jan. 28. He led The Post’s national investigative-reporting efforts, exposing congressional efforts to hide unsavory earmarks, along with FBI misuse of anti-terrorism tools and forensic science.
He previously worked for the Associated Press over a 20-year span as reporter, news editor, special-assignment editor, assistant bureau chief and most recently as director of multimedia investigative reporting.
“John Solomon, coming from The Washington Post, our archrival, is an exciting and unexpected part of this change,” Mr. Pruden said. “I look forward to what he builds on the remarkable legacy he inherits, a legacy built in part by Fran Coombs, the managing editor. Without Fran’s aggressive and creative execution of our vision, his careful assembling of our editing and reporting staff, we would never have built our reputation as the fearless alternative to The Post and the mainstream media. The Times is rowdy, as most newspapers once were, independent and politically incorrect by design. I’ve been assured that won’t change.”
Mr. Solomon’s previous work for the Associated Press included coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to the impeachment of President Clinton, and investigations revealing what America’s clandestine agencies knew about the threat of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil before September 11, 2001. At one point, the FBI seized Mr. Solomon’s home telephone records and personal mail in an effort to unmask his sources. The FBI later apologized.
He won both the Associated Press Managing Editors Enterprise Reporting Award and the Gramling Journalism Achievement Award in 2002 for his coverage of the war on terrorism here and abroad, plus the Raymond Clapper Memorial Award in 1992 for an investigative series on Ross Perot.
Mr. Solomon administered the financial and personnel affairs for the 150-member Washington bureau of the Associated Press, led a seven-person investigation team, and in the past two years developed the format to present stories simultaneously in print, on radio and TV, and online.
A native of Connecticut, Mr. Solomon graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of journalism degree from Marquette University. He and his wife, Judith Anne, are parents of a son, Joshua.
“I look forward to leading one of the nation’s great newsrooms, and to join a team that has carefully thought about the future and is committed to building a truly converged multimedia news enterprise,” Mr. Solomon said.
“In the months to come, our readers and viewers will see a redesigned Web site, the launch of some exciting new editorial products and focused outreach to an expanded audience. These are dynamic times, and I am excited for this unprecedented opportunity.”
“We have a strategy for growth to expand our competitiveness as a news organization to national and global audiences,” said Mr. McDevitt. “John emerged as the best of the best.”
Mr. Solomon’s first appointment will be a new managing editor to replace Mr. Coombs, who joined the paper as assistant national editor and became managing editor in 2002.