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Doug Oplinger, Beacon Journal’s managing editor, retires after 46 years in journalism

From The Beacon Journal

Doug Oplinger, the Beacon Journal’s managing editor, retired Friday after 46 years in journalism.

While many may know Doug and some may not, all of you know his work at the Beacon Journal and Doug has had a role in stories about:

  •  The 1986 hostile takeover attempt at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
  •  The 1993 examination about race relations in Akron.
  •  Holding Ohio’s charter schools accountable.

Managing editors, well, help manage the newsroom (as much as a newsroom can be managed). They work closely with the editors and reporters to shape our news report daily and over the long term. They attend meetings, talk to a lot of reporters and editors and speak for the editor when the editor is not around.

Doug is a native of Springfield Township who lives in Green. He attended the University of Akron and got a master’s degree from Northwestern University.

His career at the Beacon Journal started as a part-time reporter on the old state desk in 1971. It was a time when the newsroom still was somewhat filled with smoke and editors and reporters could be described as “crusty” because they tended to yell at each other a lot (particularly around deadlines).

Doug became a full-time metro reporter in 1976 and eventually landed on the business desk.

Doug often tells the story of a day John S. Knight walked by. Doug mentioned that some of Knight’s business associates were not being forthcoming for a story.

Knight walked off.

Doug later was summoned to Knight’s office. Thinking he was in some sort of trouble, Doug was relieved to find that Knight had called his associates, gotten quotes and was giving them to Doug for the story.

In 1986, Doug was business editor when a corporate raider from England tried to take over Goodyear, one of Akron’s landmark companies. Over several months, the Beacon Journal followed the story as it went from corporate offices to Wall Street to the streets of Akron to the halls of Congress.

Doug was a key editor in this staff-wide effort that led to the Beacon Journal being awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1987.

In 1993, a number of editors and reporters undertook a 15-month project that examined race relations in Akron. Doug organized and ran 16 focus groups for the stories. Through this reporting, the Beacon Journal showed a deep racial divide in Akron.

Those stories — which resulted in a presidential visit to Akron to talk about race and the formation of a citizens group to better race relations — brought the Beacon Journal a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1994.

On a statewide level, Doug was involved in telling the story of Ohio’s primary and secondary schools. Through extensive use of data analysis, the Beacon Journal has held Ohio’s charter schools accountable for their academic performance and how our tax dollars are spent.

Doug also was the key editor in projects that examined our shrinking middle class and the lack of civility in our politics.

He most recently led the statewide Your Vote Ohio project. The Beacon Journal assembled a statewide media coalition to listen to voters through extensive polling so we could tell stories you wanted reported during the 2016 election year. That project just received an honorable mention from Editor & Publisher magazine as part of its annual stories about newspapers that do it right.

Last May, Doug was inducted into the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Hall of Fame. Most importantly, as he went from reporter to various editing jobs and finally managing editor, Doug mentored countless journalists along the way.

Outside the newsroom, Doug and his wife, Diane, have three grown children (one son, two daughters) and are grandparents. Doug is an Eagle Scout, teaches Sunday school and is a recovering Ohio State band parent.

In a note last week about his retirement, Doug said:

“I will sorely miss working with you and all the people at John S. Knight’s first newspaper. For 46 years, every day has been intellectually stimulating and rewarding. What we do is integral to the survival of a nation, conceived out of dreams 241 years ago, and protected as part of our Constitution.

“Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of this great adventure.”


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