Oregonian Editor Peter Bhatia Leaving for Arizona State

Peter Bhatia, the top editor at The Oregonian, is leaving the state's largest newspaper for a one-year teaching job at Arizona State University.

Bhatia announced his departure to his staff this afternoon at 3 pm, leading to a flurry of Twitter posts before official confirmation on Oregonlive.com. 

Oregonian Media Group, the new company formed by owners Advance Publications Inc. last year, will conduct a national search for his replacement. 

Arizona State released an announcement this afternoon that Bhatia will join the Cronkite School as the next Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor.

"Bhatia will start the yearlong appointment this summer, the university said in a press release, "working with more than two dozen students from across the country in the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, an in-depth multimedia journalism experience based at Cronkite. In the fall semester, he will teach Journalism Ethics and Diversity."

His predecessor, Sandra Mims Rowe, served as a visiting professor of journalism ethics at Arizona State after leaving The Oregonian.

Bhatia's legacy from four years at the top of the paper will include leading the paper's shift to a web-first model—along with conducting two rounds of newsroom layoffs and reducing home delivery to four days a week.

Last June, Bhatia received the new title of vice president of content for Oregonian Media Group, a new company overseeing The Oregonian's move to web-based reporting.

He and publisher N. Christian Anderson III oversaw the reduction of home delivery to four days a week, and laid off as many as 49 reporters, editors, designers and photographers—nearly a quarter of the paper's remaining news staff. Bhatia told WW the decisions were painful to make. "Our newsroom is a family of outstanding journalists and people,” he said. “I agonized over every decision.”

The Oregonian has replaced many of these reporters with new hires in recent months. Bhatia became more visible in the paper's pages, answering questions about the digital shift from upset readers.

In January, WW reported Bhatia applied for—but did not win—a job as dean of the University of Nebraska's journalism school.

At least one of the journalists Bhatia laid off last summer offered a what appeared to be veiled comment today on his former boss' exit.