Courier Journal Executive Editor Joel Christopher | Photo via Courier Journal

Joel Christopher, the executive editor of the Courier Journal for just over two years, announced Friday that he is leaving the newspaper to helm Gannett’s Knoxville News Sentinel.

“When you look at the Knoxville newsroom you see there’s such a rich legacy and strong investigative journalism,” stated Christopher in the News Sentinel story announcing the move. “Add in the fact that we are part of a very strong Tennessee network … that’s exciting from a news perspective and an audience perspective because of the extra power that goes into important journalism efforts and big breaking news.”

Christopher will begin in his new role on Feb. 4 at the News Sentinel, which has just over half of the circulation of the Courier Journal.

Richard Green — the midwest regional editor of the USA Today Network who was named editor of the Courier Journal in May — was quoted in the News Sentinel article praising Christopher for understanding “the importance of pursuing and delivering journalism that matters.”

“Knoxville can expect a solid commitment to investigative reporting, urgent breaking news and compelling storytelling,” stated Green. “I’m grateful for his contributions here in Louisville, and I am confident he will help elevate the already-dynamic News Sentinel staff.”

Asked about Christopher’s departure and the direction of the newspaper going forward, Green told Insider Louisville that he will “be out recruiting for a very strong No. 2 with a very proven track record on investigative and public service journalism.”

“That’s the direction that I’m going, and looking for somebody who understands our 150-year tradition of doing journalism that matters in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Green.

Two longtime Courier Journal reporters — Jeffrey Lee Puckett and Kenzie Winstead — announced their retirement earlier this week, along with three in Gannett’s local design studio.

Asked if there were any more staff changes planed in the near future, Green said “we’re always looking for ways to make the staff stronger.”

“We’ve got some new reporting positions we’ll be adding, and like I said, just a much sharper perspective and pursuit of watchdog journalism.”

This story has been updated.

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]