Don Shelton, who has worked at The Seattle Times for 32 years, including the last three as the newspaper’s executive editor, announced his retirement Monday. Shelton will be succeeded as executive editor by Michele Matassa Flores, The Times’ current managing editor.
In his tenure as executive editor, Shelton has led the newspaper’s drive toward digital transformation, introducing the use of metrics in the newsroom and stressing the importance of digital subscriptions. He’s overseen the launch of two new community-funded journalism initiatives — Traffic Lab and Project Homeless — and, just last week, the announcement of a new Investigative Journalism Fund at the newspaper.
Shelton’s last day will be May 23.
In 25 years with The Seattle Times, Matassa Flores has worked in or supervised nearly every department in the newsroom.
Matassa Flores was first hired by The Seattle Times in 1988 and has served as a reporter, deputy business editor, co-metro editor, deputy investigations editor, features editor, assistant managing editor for sports and features and deputy managing editor. She left the company in 2008, taking on leadership roles with the Seattle news website Crosscut and the Puget Sound Business Journal. She returned to The Times in 2013 and has served as managing editor since 2016.
She has also worked at the Statesman Journal, in Salem, Oregon.
Matassa Flores, 55, is a graduate of the University of Oregon and lives with her husband in West Seattle. They have two grown children.
As managing editor, Matassa Flores has overseen the day-to-day operations of the 145-person newsroom and directed The Times’ news coverage.
“I’ve been at The Times for almost my entire career, and have been lucky enough to work for some of the very best editors in the business,” Matassa Flores said. “I’m honored to follow in their footsteps — and to lead a staff that is so full of talent and commitment. Building on our proud history, I know we have great things ahead.”
Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen said he was eager to work directly with Matassa Flores and added that “she’s poised to be the editor to take us through the next decade.”
“We have spent the past decade producing some of the best journalism in the country while creating an innovative, sustainable business model,” Blethen said. “We are very excited for the future of a free press in Seattle and Washington state.”
Shelton’s tenure as executive editor crowned a career in journalism of more than 40 years. From 2009 to 2016, he was The Seattle Times’ sports editor and for 22 years before that he worked as the newspaper’s assistant sports editor, leading preps coverage and coordinating Huskies and Seahawks game-day coverage.
“As sports editor for seven years Shelton was the best in the country,” The Seattle Times Company said in a news release.
He previously worked at the Yakima Herald-Republic, the (Bellevue) Journal-American and the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat in California.
Shelton, 65, is a University of Idaho graduate, and a married father of three grown sons.
“I’ve got five grandkids in the area, I’ve got three kids, and I hardly ever see them,” Shelton said. “It just felt like the right time to go.”