Rick Green named editor of Herald-Leader

There’s reason to celebrate this afternoon as Rick Green is named editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader!

In my role at WKU, I am thrilled Rick is returning to the Commonwealth, even if it is in that blue place. Rick has more passion for excellence in public service journalism than anyone else I know working in the news industry today. He led the team at The Courier-Journal that exposed ex-Gov. Matt Bevin’s pardoning of more than 600 criminals, including murderers, rapists and child molesters, on his way out of office in 2019, and led the CJ newsroom through its exceptional reporting on the Breonna Taylor killing and subsequent protests. His staff won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Bevin’s pardons and was a finalist for its coverage of Taylor.

Rick left the CJ in late 2020 after Gannett was taken over by a hedge fund.

After leaving the CJ and Gannett, a company he’d worked for the vast majority of his career, Rick headed to the West Coast, where he has been building Sonoma Media and its flagship, The Press Democrat, into the best newspaper of its size in California, doing the kind of journalism that was his hallmark in Louisville. He is an evangelist for deeply reported and well told journalism and is an inspirational leader.

The Herald-Leader has had a tradition of strong news leadership. Its most recent editor was Peter Baniak, whom McClatchy promoted to a corporate position this summer. Peter led his staff to some fantastic work even as it downsized; he was on a mission for the past few years to rebuild that staff – and doing so by hiring a number of WKU and College Heights Herald alumni into key positions in the Herald-Leader newsroom.

While Rick is not one our alumni – he’s an Ohio University alum – he has been on the advisory board for WKU Student Publications since 2019. His return to Kentucky is, I believe, a signal that Herald-Leader owner McClatchy is serious about the news mission of the Herald-Leader – which is great news for every Kentuckian.

Rick Green, named editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday, speaks to a college journalism convention in San Francisco in March. (Photo by Amy DeVault)