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Times-Dispatch Loses Veteran Reporters

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Two prominent Richmond Times-Dispatch writers are taking newspaper jobs elsewhere.

Reporter David Ress, who wrote business and investigative stories, has left to become local news editor at the News Leader, a daily serving Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County.

Pop-music critic Melissa Ruggieri will join the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her last day with the Times-Dispatch is at the end of the month, according to a source familiar with the transition.

Barbara Senftleber, newsroom development editor at the Cox Media-owned Journal-Constitution, confirms Ruggieri will become a general assignment features writer focusing on arts and entertainment, likely starting next month. The Atlanta newspaper had a daily circulation of 195,582 in March. By comparison, the T-D's daily circulation was 125,011.

Ruggieri has worked as a music writer for the Times-Dispatch since 1995 and is known for her prolific writing, including concert coverage, album reviews and other critical musings.

“It's a great market, it's a huge jump, and it's phenomenal for her,” says DJ Melissa Chase, assistant program director at the New 103.7 the River. Chase praises what she calls Ruggieri's honest reviews and her support of local artists who “would have gotten overlooked without her help.”

Ress will oversee five reporters at the Gannett-owned News Leader, which reports a daily circulation of 14,100. He joined the Times-Dispatch in 1994 as a business reporter and oversaw an investigative team for the paper in the late 1990s. He left to work for Newark, N.J.'s Star-Ledger for a few years before returning in 2003.

Ress focused on in-depth investigative series, particularly articles on the state mental health system and adult care homes, as well as reports that shed light on deteriorating conditions at Richmond City Jail and articles following the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings. He also worked at the Daily Press in Hampton Roads from 1990-1994 and for Reuters in London, Montreal and Nairobi, Kenya.

Reflecting on his work, Ress praises the collaborative efforts of Times-Dispatch writers, photo-
graphers and editors, and says he looks forward to fostering similar teamwork on in-depth reporting in Staunton.

“The things that I've done that I'm the most proud of — I know that I couldn't have done without a whole bunch of people bailing me out of a whole bunch of jams,” he says. “There's a lot of emotion … involved with this change.”

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