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Originally published September 30, 2013 at 7:18 PM | Page modified September 30, 2013 at 8:56 PM

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New top editor will lead The Times

The appointment of longtime Seattle journalist Kathy Best, announced Monday by Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen, came with a series of new titles and assignments for members of The Times’ leadership team.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Kathy Best, a longtime Seattle journalist and a Seattle Times editor for six years, has been named the newspaper’s editor, Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen announced Monday.

Best, who most recently has been one of The Times’ two managing editors, begins the new job immediately, Blethen said. She replaces David Boardman, who resigned in August after 30 years at The Times to become dean of Temple University’s School of Media and Communication in Philadelphia.

Before joining The Seattle Times, Best was the assistant managing editor for Sunday and national news at The Baltimore Sun. She also had been assistant managing editor/metro at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Also Monday, Blethen appointed Suki Dardarian, who has been the newspaper’s other managing editor, to the newly created position of director of audience development and innovation. She will report directly to the publisher, and indirectly to Alan Fisco, executive vice president for revenue and new products, on ways to build the newspaper’s print and digital audiences.

Blethen said the newsroom leadership team “will continue our remarkable story of stewardship and perseverance (and) lead us the rest of the way into a vibrant, sustainable 21st-century model for a journalism/public-service organization.”

At Monday’s announcement, Best told The Times’ news staff that with the uncertain future facing the industry, “All of us in this room need to stay laser-focused on our mission: producing useful, meaningful, kick-ass journalism that readers can’t get anywhere else.”

Dardarian, who has been at the newspaper since 2000, said, “I’m excited to remain based in the newsroom, but to extend my reach to work with other departments ... Chief among my jobs will be to continue to identify how we can bring more value to our community and also help this company thrive.”

Other newsroom leadership positions announced:

Jim Simon, who has been assistant managing editor for local news, becomes deputy managing editor, focusing on Sunday content and enterprise and bringing the newspaper’s hard-news efforts in metro, business and investigative journalism under one umbrella.

Ryan Blethen, currently executive producer of, will become assistant managing editor/digital, overseeing online content and subscriptions. Ryan Blethen is the son of the publisher. Mark Higgins, who was metro editor, will be senior editor, digital, working directly with Blethen.

Michele Matassa Flores, returning to The Times after working most recently at Puget Sound Business Journal, will be assistant managing editor/entertainment, overseeing sports and features.

Leon Espinoza, currently executive news editor, will become the assistant managing editor for standards and interactivity. His work will safeguard the credibility of The Seattle Times and make sure The Times listens to its readers.

Whitney Stensrud, now art director for graphics, will become assistant managing editor for visuals, exploring effective new ways to connect with readers through photos, interactive graphics, charts, illustrations and videos.

Carole Carmichael, in her continuing role as assistant managing editor, will help develop new ways to connect the newspaper with the community.

Best told news staffers Monday that top priorities will include:

• Sunday newspapers that showcase elegant storytelling, along with watchdog and investigative stories;

• Web presentations that maximize the potential of multimedia avenues and pull readers into the conversation;

• Daily news reports — in print and online — that set the news agenda for the region; and

• Content that creates a strong sense of place and connection to the community.

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or

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