New Pilot owner taps Marisa Porto as new executive editor

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Less than three weeks after buying The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.), media giant Tronc replaced the newspaper's top editor with Marisa Porto, who also leads the Daily Press in Newport News.

Tronc executives made the announcement during a meeting in The Pilot's newsroom. Porto takes over for Steve Gunn, who held the position for three years.

"Steve has decided to exit," said Nancy Meyer, southeastern general manager for Tronc.

Tronc, formerly known as Tribune Publishing, is a publicly traded company that owns the Daily Press, as well as The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune and the Orlando Sentinel, among other large media outlets nationwide. It bought The Pilot, its associated businesses and property on May 27 for $34 million.

Porto will remain the editor of the Daily Press and split her time between the two newspapers. When asked how she will manage running two major publications simultaneously, Porto said: "That's what conference calls are for."

She added that she was excited for the "opportunity in this role to give a wider voice to some issues in Hampton Roads."

Porto added "publisher" to her job description at the Daily Press Media Group in March 2016. For the previous five years, she had served as "vice president of content," overseeing the newsrooms of the Daily Press, The Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg and the Tidewater Review in West Point.

In a statement, Gunn said he "loved the opportunity to serve Hampton Roads with great local journalism. The Pilot is a special place and I wish Marisa and the newsroom staff the best for the future."

He said that under his tenure he was most proud of the journalism that was done and the growth of The Pilot's digital focus.

Porto will not serve as publisher of The Pilot. The Norfolk-based newspaper has been without a publisher since the departure of Pat Richardson, who left in April to head a media company in Connecticut.

In a meeting May 29 with staff, Tronc said the company would study over the next 45 days how to integrate The Pilot and the Daily Press' operations. They rebutted rumors that the two organizations will merge.

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