Newsday announced Friday that managing editor Don Hudson has been named chief content officer and editor, succeeding Deborah Henley, who is retiring at the end of the year.
He and Henley will work together as editors during a monthlong transition starting Dec. 1.
“I’m thrilled that Don will lead Newsday into the future,” Newsday’s publisher, Debby Krenek, said in a statement. “He has been a key leader in our Watchdog coverage of vital topics such as health, education, and transportation and growing Newsday’s audience across all of our platforms.”
Henley, Krenek said, “has been the driving force behind our award-winning coverage, bringing Newsday to new heights of excellence. Under her leadership, Newsday has won countless awards, including a Polk award for Long Island Divided, a Peabody and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for deep reporting that uncovers wrongdoing and holds those in power accountable.”
Henley, 63, has been the publication’s top editor since 2011, when she took over from Krenek. She first came to Newsday in 1990 as an editor at the paper's New York edition. After New York Newsday closed in 1995, she worked at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, The New York Times and The News Journal in Delaware before returning to Newsday in 2004.
“I'm grateful to my colleagues,” Henley said in an interview. “Their support, their commitment has been inspiring to me, and I’m so proud of the strong work that we've done together. And I'm excited about what Don and the team are going to do going forward.”
Henley and Hudson both have known since youth — Henley in Goochland, Virginia, and Hudson in Shreveport, Louisiana — that they wanted to work in newspapers.
Hudson will be the first Black editor to lead Newsday. He earned his bachelor's degree in radio/television management from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He has worked as a reporter and editor at publications including the Orlando Sentinel; Gannett Co. Inc., in Tennessee, Michigan and Mississippi, where he helped shape civil-rights coverage that was named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize; and The Decatur Daily in Alabama.
Hudson, 61, lives in Farmingdale with his wife, Miriam, a former first-grade teacher. He is president of the New York chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, a motorcycle club whose members do community service work.
Hudson said of Henley, “This newsroom is going to sorely miss her. Her leadership, her skill set… she had those investigative chops, and she has done great things certainly for Newsday.”
Hudson, who joined the paper four years ago, said, “I just want to continue that tradition, just strong watchdog journalism, investigative work, excellent storytelling and community-based journalism…. We want to continue to grow our operation across all these various platforms, social media, digital, NewsdayTV, and certainly we want to keep our print edition strong and vibrant. We have an excellent team put together and an excellent group of journalists who take a great deal of pride in what they do on a daily basis.”
Of his role as one of the first Black editors to lead a major newspaper in the United States, Hudson said, “I think it certainly will mean some things to journalists of color across the country, because there are very few of us in such leadership roles.”
He added, “I try to mentor and help folks across the board, and to me, that's the most important thing, just growing the next generation of journalists.”