Update: Ex-Metro Times Editor 'Not Particularly' Surprised By Sudden Departure

January 09, 2015, 9:38 AM by  Alan Stamm

The Metro Times editor whose tenure was shorter than three-quarters of a year says "I feel good" about the abrupt departure, which she disclosed Thursday on Twitter and to Crain's media reporter Bill Shea.

"Whenever there's a big change, it creates amazing opportunity," Valerie Vande Panne said during a 14-minute phone interview Friday morning with Deadline. "It's best to embrace that change."

While declining to hint at the circumstances of her separation from the paper that Euclid Media of Cleveland bought 13 months ago, Vande Panne acknowledged that she's "not particularly" surprised it happened now.

She plans to stay in journalism -- "a business I've chosen" -- and isn't ready to discuss her next career step. "I love Detroit," the Western Michigan native noted.

The former editor voices gratitude for working eight and a half months with "amazing journalists," adding: "We did important work on issues of race and diversity. . . . It was an honor and a privlege to work there and to work with that team."    

Vande Panne declined to give her age, saying "I prefer to remain a woman of mystery."

Separately, two former full-timers at the Ferndale-based paper comment on social media about its abrupt leadership gap.

Brett Callwood, who left as music editor last August and now is managing editor at Yellow Scene magazine in Erie, Colo., says in a series of Facebook posts:

This is another bad decision in a string of them. Despite offering a wealth of chops and experience, Valerie was never given the respect she deserves by those in control.

She's a woman of integrity. She terrified the big guys. I saw many an exchanged glance when she held a strong opinion. A huge loss, imo.  

Robert Nixon, who left last June after two years as creative design manager, posts: "Completely unsurprised. Sadness ensues."

Original article, Thursday night:

Being top editor at the Metro Times  is a high-turnover job.

The latest recruit, Valerie Vande Panne, is gone after less than nine months at the Detroit weekly. Her public announcement makes it sound like a relief:

Earlier Thursday, she told Bill Shea of Crain's Detroit Business:

"There was a difference in editorial vision and management style." . . .

She declined to discuss specifics of her departure, or go into details about her next career move.

Valerie Vande Panne 

In an email from Cleveland, the paper's owner -- Andrew Zelman of Euclid Media -- tells Deadline Detroit: "We have no comment at this time."

Euclid bough Metro Times in December 2013. The next month, Zelman fired editor Bryan Gottlieb, who had been on the job 22 months. 

His replacement was announced April 22.

In a set of four departure tweets, Vande Panne said she's "proud of the work MT did" and adds: "Especially happy with the final cover story" on an effort to rebrand a Southwest Detroit area as Springwells Village. 

Curt Guyette, former news editor at Metro Times and now an investigative reporter for the the ACLU of Michigan, praises Vande Panne.

"I worked with Valerie on a couple big stories and I thought she did an excellent job," he said late Thursday, adding that she improved the paper's quality. 

The latest departing editor is a Grand Rapids native who grew up in Greenville, Mich., Shea reports. 

The free tabloid, founded in 1980, circulates about 50,000 issues every Wednesday, Crain's says.

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