Craig Newman Credit: Facebook

Is the storied post of managing editor disappearing from American newspapers?

Maybe. It’s left the news shop at 350 N. Orleans Street.

The ME of the Sun-Times, Craig Newman, just resigned without knowing what he’ll do next; editor in chief Jim Kirk told his staff Tuesday that Newman won’t be replaced. Down the hall from the Sun-Times, at the Reader, ME Jake Malooley was recently promoted to editor, and Malooley’s old position won’t be filled. Instead, the Reader will hire a news editor with both print and online responsibilities.

Day to day, a newspaper’s ME runs it, while the editor thinks strategic thoughts. But the daily paper is an ever dwindling component of a paper’s combined print/online presence. Both the Sun-Times and Reader are extremely lean operations that question where every dollar is spent, and a managing editor, amazingly, is now an extravagance.

Asked what’s happening to the position, Kirk ordered his thoughts and e-mailed me this: “Traditional newsroom manager roles are changing as the emphasis shifts to digital. You’re seeing newsrooms shift to more editor/content producers who are working with reporters but also generating content, aggregating, curating, posting video, and, increasingly more importantly, distributing more through various social channels. The focus is on accuracy, speed and distribution and that is drastically changing roles that were created for print deadlines.”

To this I’d add that roles also change when everybody has to do the work of two people.