David Eden Named Editor in Chief at Free Times

Brings 15 years journalistic experience to job

Editor, columnist, investigative reporter, entrepreneur — all describe David Eden. So does “busy.”

Eden, 49, is the new editor in chief of the Cleveland Free Times, published by Village Voice Media. So new, in fact, you might not think he could have accomplished much.

In less than two weeks, however, he has not only overseen the day-to-day duties of his station, he’s shifted and altered editorial content to fit the newspaper’s graphic redesign, a plan that’s been months in the making.

“The paper looks great, and I’m pretty jazzed about the whole thing,” enthuses Matt Fabyan, publisher of the Free Times.

He adds that Eden saw the paper’s advertisement seeking a new editor last month and came in “on a fact-finding mission, more than an interview.” At that time, Village Voice Editor in Chief Don Forst was shuttling in three days a week from New York City to act as interim editor, replacing former Editor Lisa Chamberlain.

“A month ago, this wasn’t even on my radar screen,” Eden explains.

For the past decade, Eden has worked as head of his own Internet start-up communications business. Prior to that, the University of Missouri-Columbia J-school grad did a bit of everything. He’s been assistant managing editor of the Dallas Times Herald and The Minneapolis Star, a television columnist with the Detroit News, national foreign and Sunday editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and even a film critic.

“He really understands Cleveland, being a Cleveland native,” Fabyan says.

Eden moved back to his hometown in 1987 and was there for the launch of the Free Times in September 1992. He’s followed its progress and came to the editor’s job at the end of March full of ideas for improvement.

He says the Free Times has strong political writers and excellent music coverage; what he simply wants to do is fine-tune what it’s already doing well and add a few more features. One addition is a “street” column aimed toward readers of color, authored by a black writer.

Eden is also beefing up aggressive investigative reporting and providing stronger commentary on local media, as well as expanding coverage of local pop culture and dining. “UpFront” is a redesign of the standard weekly “news briefs” column, aimed mainly at covering area politicians and celebrities.

The Web site, http://www.freetimes.com, is also getting an upgrade, making it easier to navigate and including daily news updates.

“There aren’t really new ideas,” Eden explains. “It’s taking old ideas and executing them well.”

Eden joins new Art Director Bill Ramsey, who resigned from C*Ville in Charlottesville, Va., in June 2001, embarked on a freelance career in Charlottesville, and then became Free Times’ art director Jan. 9.

Ramsey and Fabyan worked with publication designer J.C. Suares to change the paper’s logo and look, and Fabyan says Eden did “an amazing amount of work” to catch up and help get the redesign out on April 10.

The crusading Eden says he’s “been through all the wars” of a journalist and isn’t afraid to put those in power under a microscope to effect change. He thinks sometimes this is best done with a bit of humor and isn’t afraid to lampoon those “who need lampooning.”

“Good stories told well,” sums up his philosophy. “That’s my bottom line.”

Ann Hinch is a freelance writer based in Knoxville, Tenn.

Leave a Reply