Ting Shen for the Rivard Report
Beth Frerking, editor-in-chief of the The National Law Journal in Washington, D.C., and a Seguin native, has been named editor-in-chief of the Rivard Report.
The appointment was unanimously approved by the nonprofit news organization's board of directors and announced to staff on Monday by Robert Rivard, the co-founder and current editor and director who will assume the title of publisher in the organization's new leadership structure.
"Beth is a journalist of great accomplishment and a proven newsroom leader," Rivard said. "Her national experience, her work mentoring young reporters, and her deep South Texas roots make her uniquely qualified to take our coverage of the city and region to the next level."
The board of directors also agreed that a long-anticipated name change for the Rivard Report will be formally undertaken upon Frerking's arrival, a change intended to reflect the website's growth since its inception in 2012 as a blog launched by Rivard and his wife, Monika Maeckle. The Rivard Report reorganized as a 501(c)3 in late 2015 and shortly thereafter named its seven-member board of directors.
The local news site now has a three-person business team and 12 staff and contract journalists who publish hundreds of original stories each month. It has partnered with various community organizations to present a growing number of events and forums promoting civic literacy and engagement.
The Rivard Report, San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Pearl recently organized, "A Conversation with Mayor Ron Nirenberg," which drew nearly 400 luncheon guests to the Pearl Stable on Aug. 8.
Frerking will oversee a growing editorial staff of reporters, photographers, and editors, including newly named arts and culture reporter Nicholas Frank. The Rivard Report also has three contributing writers under contract who cover education, business, and technology, along with a number of regular freelance contributors.
"Bringing on Beth Frerking as our editor-in-chief is one giant leap forward for the Rivard Report after only two years of operations as a nonprofit news organization," said Richard T. Schlosberg III, board chairman and a longtime newspaper publisher. "I have known Beth and her work for three decades, and she is a national-class editor and leader. There is no limit to what she and Bob [Rivard] will accomplish together now. San Antonio is the big winner with the return of this talented Texas native."
Frerking is a graduate of University of Texas at Austin's School of Journalism, and she served as editor of The Daily Texan. She traces her Texas roots to generations who settled in Seguin in the late 1800s. One great-grandfather served as the city's newspaper publisher and editor.
At The National Law Journal, a publication of ALM Media, she has overseen coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justice Department, federal regulation, and the business of law in Washington, D.C. In April, she shepherded conversion of the publication’s weekly print newspaper to a monthly glossy magazine, recently earning recognition as a magazine innovator in the Folio: 100 Awards.
Before joining The National Law Journal as its top editor in 2013, she served as one of the first-generation editors at Politico in Washington, D.C., which began publication in early 2007. Frerking joined Politico one week before its launch, and was an assistant managing editor when she left to join The National Law Journal.
For both Schlosberg and Rivard, the hiring of Frerking marks a reunion. Rivard and Frerking were both reporters at the Dallas Times Herald in the early 1980s at a time when the daily newspaper was leading a larger statewide effort to elevate the quality of journalism.
Both the Times Herald and the Denver Post, where Schlosberg served as CEO and publisher, were owned by Times-Mirror at the time. Schlosberg oversaw a major expansion of news operations before moving on to become publisher of the Los Angeles Times. Frerking was one of the young, talented journalists recruited by his editorial team, first serving as a Washington correspondent and then as the newspaper's Washington bureau chief.
It was early in Frerking's career as a reporter and editor in the nation's capital that would eventually include stints at the Newhouse News Service, the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families, Politico, and The National Law Journal.
At Newhouse News Service, Frerking pioneered a national beat covering children, families, and education. During her time there, she was honored with two National Headliner awards. At the Denver Post, Frerking covered the Colorado congressional delegation and the presidential campaign of then-U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, whose quest for the Democratic nomination disintegrated in 1987 after news reports of his relationship with Donna Rice, a young Miami woman.
During her four years as a reporter at the Times Herald, Frerking was part of a team that produced an investigative series on domestic air traffic safety following the crash of Delta Flight 191 in August 1985. The paper’s coverage of the crash – including the series “How Safe Are the Skies?” – was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Public Service in 1986.
“While it’s going to be hard to leave my very talented colleagues at ALM and The National Law Journal, I couldn’t pass up this unique opportunity to help lead the Rivard Report into the future,” Frerking said. “I am impressed by its mission and drive under Bob’s leadership, its energetic and ambitious staff, and by the support of a smart, dedicated board committed to the publication’s continued growth and development as a trusted source of news and analysis.
“San Antonio has a tradition of strong, vibrant journalism, which is only a plus. Not only does robust and respectful competition make for better coverage, it makes for a better informed public,” Frerking said. “That’s critical as San Antonio’s citizens wrestle with many challenging issues ahead. I can’t wait to come home and jump in.”
In his new role, Rivard will oversee all operations of the organization, focusing on development of the membership base, foundation and philanthropic giving, and continued growth in advertising revenue. He will continue to help organize and present civic engagement events and maintain a weekly column.
Frerking's appointment as editor-in-chief caps a five-month national search that drew more than 30 applications.
"I want to give Beth and her team the resources they need to take our community journalism to the next level and beyond," Rivard said. "Nonprofit digital journalism is thriving in cities across the country, and as San Antonio continues to grow, our mission will remain unchanged: to inform and connect the city's engaged citizens with trusted and credible community news."
Frerking begins her duties in San Antonio on Sept. 25.
In addition to Frerking’s roots in Seguin and Karnes City, where she graduated from high school, she has a strong San Antonio connection: Her sister, cybersecurity marketing executive Meg Grant, has lived, worked, and raised her family in the city for three decades.
Frerking’s husband, David Bowne Wood, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who has covered defense and national security issues for more than 35 years. Frerking has two sons, Matthew Reese of Oxford, England, and Evan Reese of Washington, D.C., and three stepchildren, Seth Wood of Charlottesville, Va., Peter Soutowood of La Mesa, Calif., and Samantha Smith of Truckee, Calif.