By Maria Halkias
The Dallas Morning News has named Katrice Hardy, a veteran journalist whose newsrooms have a track record of award-winning reporting, to be its next top editor.
Hardy, 47, joins The News next month as executive editor. She’s currently executive editor at the Indianapolis Star, which won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, and Midwest regional editor for the USA Today Network.
Hardy becomes the first woman and Black journalist to hold The News’ top newsroom job. She also led newsrooms in Virginia and South Carolina before joining The Star in March 2020.
Under her leadership, The Star won several prestigious awards, including journalism’s top honor, the Pulitzer Prize in national reporting for its investigative work “Mauled: When Police Dogs are Weapons.” The report was produced in collaboration with The Marshall Project, AL.com and Invisible Institute.
Grant Moise, The News’ publisher, praised Hardy’s “journalistic wisdom and passionate leadership style.”
“We conducted a very thorough search to find the best executive editor in the country and I am confident we found that person in Katrice,” Moise said. “Throughout the search, it became increasingly clear she is the ideal person to fill this important role.”
People who have worked with Hardy say she’s energetic and demands excellence, but she won’t ask the staff to do anything she wouldn’t do herself. It’s not uncommon for her to roll up her sleeves to make a story as strong as it can be.
In her first newsroom, she rose in two decades from college intern to leading the newsroom of the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., as managing editor.
Her responsibilities in Indianapolis included overseeing two dozen other newsrooms, including the Louisville Courier-Journal, and 300 staffers in three states. Her region also launched a Spanish-language newspaper, La Estrella.
The Louisville Courier-Journal was a finalist for a 2021 Pulitzer Prize in two categories, breaking news and public service for its reporting on the police slaying of Breonna Taylor and the more than 180 consecutive days of protest it provoked in Louisville. Another Indianapolis Star investigation into the corruption and quality of Indiana’s nursing homes received an Investigative Reporters and Editors’ Medal.
Born and raised in the West Baton Rouge Parish town of Port Allen, La., Hardy credits her hard-working parents and church community for shaping her confidence at a young age to pursue a career in journalism where others saw obstacles for an African American woman.
Hardy said she read The Dallas Morning News growing up and respected its strong investigative reporting and its commitment to covering the community.
“A news organization serves no purpose if it’s not producing work that makes a difference in the lives of those it covers,” said Hardy, who begins her role Aug. 12. “And that’s what I’m excited about doing more of with the talented staff at The Dallas Morning News.”
An internship led the 1995 graduate of Louisiana State University to The Virginian-Pilot, where over the next 20 years she rose through the ranks to eventually become its managing editor from 2014 through 2016 before she joined Gannett.
At the largest U.S. chain of newspapers, she became the regional editor for the Southeast and the South for the USA Today Network and executive editor of The Greenville News in South Carolina. That Gannett post required her to be responsible for 13 news organizations in seven states.
Hardy’s resume presents an accomplished career, Moise said. “But then when we talked on the phone and met in person, everything about her on paper was even more impressive.”
Her experience spans the newspaper business from a print era to a digital-first era, and yet she knows that regardless of platform, our mission is to serve our community.”
The Virginian-Pilot was a family-owned independent newspaper for much of the time that Hardy worked there and she said she is glad to be back to a single newsroom with local ownership.
“I have had so much fun working in different size markets in a regional role,” Hardy said. But being able to focus on one market and to work again for a newspaper with local ownership attracted her to the job, she said.
Hardy said she plans to initially spend time listening to newsroom staff and learning about Dallas and issues such as affordable housing, gentrification, growth and local and state politics.
Hardy said she’s excited to see “so much diversity” in the Dallas community. She spent time this week visiting schools for her daughter and exploring neighborhoods.
Hardy has known she wanted to be a journalist since middle school, but remembers her parochial school students, who didn’t look like her, chuckling at the prospect and teachers pulling her aside to suggest she consider a backup plan.
Decades later, only a handful of Black women have been the top editor of an American newspaper. In the past few months, a number of major U.S. newspapers have appointed Black executive editors to lead their newsrooms.
On Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle promoted Maria Douglas Reeve to executive editor from managing editor. She joined the Chronicle in 2019 from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.
“It’s important to acknowledge the historical significance of the appointments of Katrice Hardy in Dallas and Maria Reeve in Houston as two of the top editors in the U.S.,” said Debra Adams Simmons, executive editor, culture at National Geographic, and a mentor to Hardy. “Just a few short years ago, there was less than a handful of black women running newsrooms. This is an important moment.”
Simmons said Hardy will “survey the landscape and fairly quickly identify opportunities for growth in Dallas.”
“Katrice is the editor who can help The Dallas Morning News meet the moment — in the work you create and in the relationships you build in the greater community,” Simmons said.
Hardy spent years as a local news reporter including as a hard-charging city hall reporter and then bridged technology changes in the newsroom as “an early adapter as other news organizations were stumbling in the dark,” Simmons said.
“She is the rare combination of old school journalism values, shoe leather reporting, local accountability, public service, combined with the digital savvy to embrace storytelling across multiple platforms. For Katrice, the platform doesn’t drive the storytelling, the story drives the storytelling. She stands in the gap between legacy media and new media.”