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Cotter named executive editor as The Day elevates 5 in newsroom

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New London — Timothy Cotter, managing editor of The Day since 2007, was named executive editor Friday, one of several newsroom promotions.

President and Publisher Timothy Dwyer announced Cotter’s promotion in an email to employees, citing Cotter’s leadership of the newsroom during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cotter has been The Day’s top editor since Dwyer, the former executive editor, became publisher nearly two years ago.

“He stepped into the top position with little notice and managed a seamless transition,” Dwyer wrote of Cotter. “In the last year, he and the staff have faced a huge challenge of covering the worst health crisis in more than a century, a historically bad recession and months of protests and social unrest."

“And then throw an election in the mix just to make it more difficult," he wrote. “And one more thing: He and the newsroom leadership turned the staff into a remote workforce in the snap of a finger.”

Cotter, 63, of Charlestown, R.I., a 32-year veteran of The Day, was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2018.

Cotter announced a series of staff changes he said will position The Day “to meet the challenges posed by an ever-changing industry.”

Izaskun “Sassy” Larrañeta, deputy managing editor since 2016, has been promoted to managing editor. She joined The Day as a reporter in 1999, and covered towns, courts, minority communities and breaking news before becoming an editor. As a reporter, she won numerous awards, including “Publick Occurrences” honors from the New England Newspaper & Press Association.

Larrañeta, 44, of Colchester chairs The Day’s Diversity Committee, which is working to diversify the paper’s newsroom staff, and will replace Cotter on The Day’s editorial board. She is the first Latina managing editor in the company’s history.

"Through her own work as a reporter and now an editor, Sassy has set an example for the rest of us on how hard work pays off," Cotter said. "She understands how important The Day is to the community and expresses that often to the staff."

Carlos Virgen, digital news director, has been promoted to assistant managing editor for audience development. Since joining The Day seven years ago, he has helped lead the paper’s digital transformation, working with reporters on data-driven projects, guiding social media strategy and helping develop podcasts, newsletters and livestreaming of sports.

Virgen, 48, of East Lyme also is a member of the Diversity Committee and has directed The Day’s work with Hearken, a service that helps journalists communicate with the public as news content is being developed.

Veteran reporter Karen Florin has been named audience engagement editor, a post in which she will work on newsletters, podcasts and special events as well as on Hearken and other projects aimed at increasing engagement with readers and potential readers. She will host a regular podcast in which she will talk with The Day’s journalists and newsmakers.

Florin, 55, of Old Lyme, a 26-year veteran of The Day, has covered courts since 2006 and was recognized by the New England Society of News Editors as the 2018 New England Reporter of the Year. She has long served as co-chairwoman of the Connecticut Judicial Media Committee.

"In 2021 and beyond we want to have more of a dialogue with our readers and Carlos and Karen are the perfect team to make that happen," Cotter said.

Reporter Taylor Hartz, who has covered police since joining The Day in 2019, will add coverage of courts to a newly expanded crime beat. Hartz, 28, of New London also has been one of The Day’s lead reporters on the pandemic and social unrest and has been working on a podcast that will soon debut.

"I have all the confidence that Taylor is going to continue to find compelling stories on this new beat and find new and interesting ways to tell them," Cotter said.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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