Statesman announces change to editor job, newsroom leadership

Rhonda Prast, left, and Nate Poppino.
Rhonda Prast, left, and Nate Poppino.

The Idaho Statesman announced Monday that Executive Editor Rhonda Prast’s position was eliminated as part of a restructuring of newsroom leadership.

Nate Poppino will become interim local editor and will assume expanded responsibility. Poppino has spent more than a decade as an editor and reporter in Idaho, and most recently served as the Statesman’s watchdog and politics editor.

The decision was announced in the newsroom by Lauren Gustus — McClatchy’s west region editor, who oversees 10 newsrooms in Idaho, Washington and California.

Several McClatchy executives were involved in the restructuring decision. Gustus said Prast’s departure was not related to her performance. Instead, it was done with the goal of retaining “as many local reporting resources as we can.”

“Our readers can continue to expect the Idaho Statesman to be leader in covering breaking news and in doing accountability journalism in this region,” said Statesman Publisher Rebecca Poynter in a statement. “We’re excited for Nate to lead the newsroom and deliver local journalism that is essential to Boise.”

Prast arrived at the Statesman in August 2016 from the Kansas City Star, where she helped lead digital audience engagement. Under her leadership, the Statesman saw double-digit growth in digital audience and tackled tough environmental and political topics. Those included a six-month project on Idaho’s salmon populations, an exploration of abuse in the Catholic Church, the story behind the Boise Police Department’s worst shooting in years and an examination of hate groups in Idaho.

Poppino is a University of Idaho graduate who started his career as a reporter at the Times-News in Twin Falls. He served in a variety of roles there, including a brief stint as interim editor. He then came to the Statesman in 2013, working first as breaking news editor for four years.

“From continued accountability on the Middleton Heights Elementary border wall story to fact-checking candidates during the governor’s race to a dedicated effort on how Idahoans are grappling with the rising cost of living, this team has consistently set the bar high for journalism that makes a difference,” Gustus said. “And Nate, backed by a strong group of reporters, photographers and editors, has led the way on many of these efforts.”

McClatchy owns 30 news organizations across the country.