Bill Thompson, who became The Ledger’s editorial page editor in November 2014 and shifted the newspaper’s editorial stance from center left to solidly right, has resigned and taken a job closer to his home in Ocala.
LkldNow’s email to The Ledger’s editor and interim publisher has gone unanswered, so it’s unclear who will replace Thompson or whether the newspaper will even hire somebody to oversee its opinion pages and write the daily editorials.
Many of The Ledger’s sister newspapers in the Gannett chain have chosen not to fill editorial page positions, often relying on wire services for editorials and copy editors to choose opinion columns and letters.
Thompson, 57, has been hired as a reporter by the Daily Sun in the sprawling Sumter County retirement community known as The Villages and will write articles about demographic trends.
Prior to coming to The Ledger, Thompson was a reporter and editorial writer at the Ocala Star-Banner, which has been under the same series of owners as The Ledger for at least 50 years. He was hired to oversee The Ledger’s opinion pages by then-Publisher Kevin Drake.
Thompson replaced Glenn Marston, who had been removed as editorial page editor by Drake in July 2014 after being part of the editorial staff for 17 years.
At The Ledger, the opinion section had been administratively independent of the newsroom since the 1980s, with both the newspaper’s editor and the editorial page editor reporting directly to the publisher. But Thompson was placed under the purview of Editor Bob Heist, the newsroom’s chief executive recently, according to newsroom sources.
That move was precipitated by a letter from newsroom staffers to Acting Publisher Jim Doughton protesting a letter to the editor that was interpreted as threatening violence against journalists.
Thompson gave Heist notice last Thursday that Friday would be his last day, newsroom sources said.
Thompson has not answered an email from LkldNow seeking comment.