Observer names Batten to lead editorial pages

The Charlotte Observer has named Taylor Batten, a 13-year newsroom veteran experienced in politics and public affairs coverage, as editorial page editor. He succeeds Ed Williams, who is retiring.

Batten, 39, has been the Observer's politics editor, steering the paper's coverage of the 2008 elections. He takes over for Williams on Monday.

“Ed has done a fantastic job for a long time,” Batten said. “I want to preserve the high quality of the editorial pages, while also bringing some new ideas to both print and online to bring us closer to readers.”

Williams, 66, is retiring after 35 years of opinion writing for the Observer. On Wednesday he said it is fitting that Batten takes his place.

“It kind of closes the circle,” he said.

When Williams interviewed at the paper in 1973, Batten's father, the late James K. Batten, was executive editor, and later would become CEO of Knight-Ridder Newspapers.

Taylor Batten started at the Observer in 1995 as a business reporter. But it was his coverage of government that gained him notice. He covered Mecklenburg County government, worked in the Raleigh bureau and led the coverage of John Edwards' U.S. Senate election in 1998.

After becoming an editor, Batten served as night city editor, government editor, copy desk chief and Page One editor. He has served as politics editor since December 2007.

As editorial page editor, Batten will report to publisher Ann Caulkins, as does editor Rick Thames, who supervises the newsroom.

Caulkins said Batten impressed her with his passion for the job, his connections to the community and his record as a journalist.

“He has a vision for the future, including online and print,” she said. “He will energize the paper in ways we haven't thought of yet.”

Batten is registered as an unaffiliated voter. He has a bachelor's degree from Duke University and a master's degree from Harvard University. He grew up in Miami.

He previously worked as a reporter at The Associated Press and interned at The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Miami News.