LEWISTON — Rex Rhoades, the executive editor of the Sun Journal, will retire from his position on April 1 after 40 years in the newspaper business. About half of that career was spent as executive editor of the Lewiston paper.
The Costello family, who owns the newspaper, has named Managing Editor Judith Meyer as the new executive editor.
“I have had the good fortune of working at four newspapers in four states, and I owe much to my wife, Luanne, who never said ‘no’ and who always made a better life for our family, and a better career for herself, in each new place,” Rhoades said.
“It has been terrific working for the Costello family, and I appreciate the trust they put in me and the freedom they granted our newsroom to produce the best possible newspaper for our communities.
“Finally, I have been blessed to have amazing co-workers who have the experience, skill and energy to take our company in new and exciting directions. Just wait and see!”
Maureen Wedge, vice president of human resources for the Sun Media Group, praised Rhoades for his 19 years with the company.
“Rex has provided great leadership and high journalism standards with a strong focus on serving and connecting with our communities during his tenure.”
She added, “Rex’s talents have been invaluable to us during a period of tremendous change.”
In 1999, Rhoades was named the Maine Press Association’s Journalist of the Year, honored for his leadership on the prize-winning “Bates & Beyond” project that analyzed the future of the Bates Mill at a time when voters were being asked to approve further development there. The award also recognized his leadership in redesigning the Sun Journal, his editorial and column writing, and his willingness to bring legal challenges over open-meeting law issues.
Since that time, Rhoades has led a number of award-winning newsroom projects, including investigations into Gov. Paul LePage’s interference with unemployment hearing officers at the Department of Labor.
During his time with the newspaper, the Sun Journal’s daily and Sunday newspapers have been awarded the Maine Press Association’s General Excellence award more than a dozen times. The paper has also won a number of Publick Occurrences Awards from the New England Newspaper Association for superior accomplishment in journalism.
In 2007, on behalf of the staff, he accepted a national award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for “Seeing Green,” a multi-part project analyzing and comparing Maine’s papermaking industry with the industry in Brazil.
Rhoades became editor of the Sun Journal in 1997 after 18 years at the Sandusky Register in Ohio. He served as president of the Maine Press Association in 2003.
Meyer is a 20-year veteran of the Sun Journal, starting her career as a freelancer in the Oxford Hills area in the 1980s. She worked as a part-time page designer for several years before becoming the Oxford County bureau chief in 1996 and then editorial page editor the following year. In 2001, Meyer supervised the Sun Journal’s yearlong “Heartbeat 2001” series, and was named managing editor/days in 2002.
Maine Press Association’s Journalist of the Year in 2003, Meyer serves on the Legislature’s Right to Know Advisory Committee and is a vice president of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition.
“I look forward to continuing working with our dedicated staff,” Meyer said, “and am proud to be part of this energetic, community-focused newspaper.”
Mark Mogensen, a Sun Journal news editor and the current president of the Maine Press Association, will replace Meyer as managing editor/days.
Mogensen has served in a series of roles since joining the newspaper in 1979, including reporter and Sunday editor, and in his current role oversees business coverage and the Sunday B-section as well as some news coverage.
He has supervised a number of special reports, including “Tilt!”, an investigation into student loans and scholarships managed by Maine Educational Services and its executive director, Dick Pierce. That investigation ultimately unraveled MES and improved loan and scholarship accountability in Maine.
While with the newspaper, Mogensen’s leadership and editing have helped readers make better decisions in their lives and informed them about their world, and he said he looks “forward to having both hands in a lot more of that for readers on all our platforms.”
Sports Editor Justin Pelletier will become managing editor/nights, while continuing to manage the sports department.
Pelletier became a freelancer for the Sun Journal in 1999. Since then he has been a sports reporter and assistant sports editor/online before becoming sports editor in 2012.
“I am honored and excited for this evolving opportunity to better serve our readers, and I appreciate the faith the Costello family and incoming Executive Editor Judy Meyer have in my abilities, and I will work hard every day to make sure our proud tradition of strong journalism continues,” he said.
The Sun Journal’s origins date back to 1847 and a weekly newspaper called the Lewiston Falls Journal. Family-owned and now in its fourth generation under the Costellos, the company has seen many advances and historic changes over the years.
Today, Sun Media Group with its 200-plus employees consists of the daily Sun Journal in Lewiston, the Forecaster group in southern and coastal Maine, seven weekly publications in western Maine and the recently acquired Current Publishing group in southern Maine.
The Sun Media Group publishes high-quality, comprehensive local news products for the communities it serves. Commercial printing, both Web and sheetfed, as well as many digital offerings for customers, are part of the Sun Media portfolio.