Bruce Dobie, the former Banner political reporter who with Albie Del Favero transformed a local shopping magazine into the nationally prominent newsweekly Nashville Scene, will be leaving the publication next month after 15 years as its editor. He will be departing at roughly the same time as Del Favero, who said in July that he will be leaving upon the expiration of his management agreement in December.
Liz Garrigan, 35, who joined the Scene eight years ago and most recently was associate editor, has succeeded Dobie as editor.
"Liz is awesome and was my first choice and Albie's first choice and the president of Village Voice Media's first choice," Dobie said. Village Voice Media is the New York-based company that owns the Scene and alt-weeklies in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Twin Cities and Orange County.
In a Wednesday morning conversation with NashvillePost.com, the 46-year-old Dobie said that he currently is unsure what his next career move will be, other than something that keeps him in Nashville and, he hopes, media-related. When asked if he is interviewing for the editor position at The Tennessean that will open upon Frank Sutherland's retirement, Dobie repeated, "I have no idea what I will be doing."
He also said there is nothing to update on the company's search for a new publisher.
Dobie explained his exit from the Scene as motivated in part by recognizing that as a "46-year-old father of two" he doesn't have as good a grasp on how a newsweekly ought to be covering the city as he once did. "These papers need to be young," he said.
The primary challenge for the Scene going forward will be to continually reinvent itself to stay attuned to popular culture and reflect the voice of the 18-35-year-old audience, Dobie said. Also, the newsweekly needs to learn how to adapt better to the 24/7 news cycle followed by most young people. "This means [formulating] our approach on the Web, and I don't know how that happens," Dobie said.
Garrigan told NashvillePost.com that Scene readers can expect to see more pointed, culturally aggressive and investigative content in the future. She said the Scene issue that was published today and is the first under her tenure as editor typifies what she wants the paper to accomplish. The current issue features an article challenging the Frist Center for the Visual Arts' decision to pull an art exhibit, late-night election coverage reported by Dobie and an article by music writer Michael McCall entitled "Why country bands suck."
"We're going to refresh the paper," said Garrigan, who is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and previously held reporting jobs with The Tennessean, the Nashville Business Journal and M. Lee Smith's Tennessee Journal. "The Scene's a great paper now. With new energy and more aggressive reporting, it will be better," Garrigan said.
(In the interest of full disclosure, Carrington Nelson Fox, the wife of this reporter, recently accepted an editorial staff position at the Scene.)