Don Podesta, deputy assistant managing editor for planning and administration at The Washington Post, was named yesterday to the newly created job of assistant managing editor in charge of the newsroom's copy desks.
Podesta, 55, has worked at The Post since 1981 as a makeup editor, layout editor, copy editor, assignment editor and foreign correspondent. He has been in his current job, in which he supervises newsroom technology, research and computer-assisted reporting, since 1998.
Leonard Downie Jr., The Post's executive editor, said Podesta's successful reorganization of the newsroom's research and technology staffs showed he has the skills needed to create a department of about 80 full-time copy editors throughout the newsroom.
"Copy editors are among the most important journalists in our newsroom," Downie said. "They are the last people to read and edit all stories published in the newspaper, and write the headlines on all the stories."
Uniting them under one editor for the first time will improve copy editor hiring, career development, quality control and recognition for outstanding work, he said.
"The work that copy editors do is hard work, and it's undervalued," said Podesta, who has been a copy editor on The Post's foreign desk as well as for papers in Minneapolis and Miami. "It's going to be an interesting challenge to raise their profile and improve their lives."
Podesta said he is looking forward to beginning his new job next month. "It's great to get back into words," he said. "I really care a lot about the English language and about accuracy."
Podesta was born in Chile and spent much of his childhood in Colombia before coming to the United States as a teenager. He is a graduate of Arizona State University and received a master's degree in international relations from American University.
He came to The Post a week after the shutdown of the Washington Star, where he had been employed for a year.