Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Graham Watson-Ringo, the former executive producer of expressnews.com, the digital subscriber site of the San Antonio Antonio Express-News, has been named managing editor of the Rivard Report, where she will lead the growing editorial team at the nonprofit news organization.
Watson-Ringo joins the newsroom following the departure of Beth Frerking, whose last day was June 1 after nine months as editor-in-chief. The announcement comes as part of an editorial reorganization that includes the appointment of writing coach and editor Wendy Lane Cook to the new position of deputy managing editor. Cook is a former Associated Press reporter and editor and served as assistant sports editor of The Washington Post.
Iris Dimmick, the Rivard Report’s first employee hired in 2012, is transitioning from her role as managing editor to pursue full-time reporting as the organization’s first senior reporter. She covers City Hall, politics, urban development, and more, and inside the organization is seen as someone who helped the news site grow robustly, especially in its first years.
“I’m incredibly proud of the growth and reach we have built,” said Dimmick, a 2011 journalism graduate of Central Washington University. “As managing editor, I’ve been wearing many hats over the past six years. I’m really looking forward to wearing just one. It was a decision I took very seriously. Reporting is in my bones and now I will have more time to dig deeper into stories that matter to all of us in San Antonio.”
Rivard Report co-founder Robert Rivard has resumed his previous role as editor and publisher.
“All of us are really excited about Graham’s arrival. She brings years of experience in the digital journalism space, so we think we have the strongest possible editorial leadership team in place now,” Rivard said. “A growing audience in the greater San Antonio metro area looks to us for quality, credible journalism. We are only going to get better.”
Watson-Ringo is the former executive producer of digital subscriber properties at the online version of the San Antonio Express-News, where she is credited with increasing monthly page views, instituting a social media strategy, launching multiple podcasts, and aligning team goals to site analytics.
She previously worked as the Yahoo! Sports blog editor and ESPN.com college football writer. A 2002 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Watson-Ringo resides in Alamo Ranch with her husband and three young children. She began speaking with the Rivard Report about the managing editor position earlier this year, and was laid off along with a number of other journalists at the Express-News earlier this month.
“I’m excited to join the talented writers and editors of the Rivard Report to continue to give the city of San Antonio the kind of thoughtful and engaging community journalism it deserves,” Watson-Ringo said. “The Rivard Report covers stories that matter to San Antonians and to be chosen to lead a group that cares so much about bringing those stories to the forefront is both exciting and humbling.”
Cook, who was raised in San Antonio and is a Duke University graduate, joined the staff as part-time editor and writing coach in 2017. She has worked in Texas, California, and New York for the Associated Press, before joining The Washington Post. Her reporting work includes stints covering four Olympic Games for the AP. She returned to her hometown in 2014 with her husband and two teenage daughters.
Cook works closely with Community and Production Editor Hanna Oberhofer, a native Austrian, who earned her undergraduate degree at St. Mary’s University and her graduate degree in mass communication and journalism from Texas State University. She joined the Rivard Report as production editor in July 2016. Oberhofer serves as the editorial liaison with the hundreds of citizens who publish commentaries and articles on the Rivard Report, in addition to her other duties.
Earlier this year, award-winning reporter and columnist Rick Casey joined the Rivard Report team as host of the Friday podcast, Just This. Other recent additions to the editorial staff include Emily Donaldson, who reports on education; Brendan Gibbons, the environment and energy reporter and author of The Trailist column; and JJ Velasquez as technology reporter.
With the departure of Frerking, Rackspace executive Dan Goodgame also resigned from his position on the board of directors.
The Rivard Report now employs a staff of 16 staff and contract journalists and two photojournalists. Scott Ball is the lead photo editor and producer of Just This. A business team is led by Jenna Mallette as chief operating officer, and Katy Silva, advertising and marketing director. They are in the process of hiring a new director of membership, audience engagement, and special events.
Click here to see a full staff roster.
The board of directors and leadership team at the Rivard Report has also recently announced that the website’s name will not be changed as previously planned and reported. That decision came at the recommendation of Austin-based branding experts Arrow, which conducted extensive market research in the metro area earlier this year. The agency team members concluded that recognition of the Rivard Report name and its positive brand equity was not worth sacrificing for a more institutional name. The research also showed that a lack of awareness of the Rivard Report remains a challenge in many parts of Bexar County distant from the urban core.
“The research showed our public service journalism is valued and viewed positively in the community, yet many residents in the suburbs and some of the county’s other municipalities do not know us,” Rivard said. “On the subject of a name change, a lot of people said they don’t relate the site and its journalism to me personally, except for my weekly column. They know that lots of publications like Forbes, Bloomberg, the Huff Post, and others, have names based on their founders even as they have matured to represent a range of many voices.”
The Rivard Report will move from its current offices in the historic Rand building at 110 E. Houston St. in August, to larger offices at 126 Gonzales St. at St. Paul Square, a three-story historic building that once housed the Lone Star Hotel and will give the organization more than three times its current space.
The Rivard Report partners with businesses and nonprofit organizations, including the Austin-based Texas Tribune, across the region to make San Antonio a more informed and connected community. As a nonprofit, it is member-supported and relies heavily on the annual financial contributions from its readers. To support credible, community-based, public service journalism, please click here.