Veteran newspaper editor and D.C. bureau chief Rich Oppel has joined Austin-based healthcare communications agency Crosswind Media & Public Relations as a senior advisor for media strategy and management.
Oppel was previously editor of daily newspaper the Austin American-Statesman from 1995 to 2008. Prior to that, he was editor of the Charlotte Observer, and led that publication to three Pulitzer Prizes during his 1978-1993 editorship. Oppel also previously served as Washington, D.C. bureau chief for Knight Ridder Newspapers and was executive editor of daily the Tallahassee Democrat. He later served as a senior advisor for Austin-based WPP unit Public Strategies.
“Journalism provided me the gift of knowing leaders in public affairs, business, education, the arts and media for almost 50 years. I’ve been fortunate to spend the last 21 of those years in Texas,” Oppel said in a statement.
Oppel led the American Society of Newspaper Editors from 2000-01 and served on the Pulitzer Board for nearly a decade, becoming chairman in 2008-2009. He was also previously chairman of the Knight Foundation’s Journalism Advisory Committee.
Oppel’s son, Richard A. Oppel, Jr., is a New York Times reporter, and his daughter, Shelby Oppel Wood, a former reporter at the Oregonian, is now senior writer/senior PR account manager at Portland, OR-based ad agency Coates Kokes.
Oppel becomes the second Statesman veteran to join the agency. Crosswind in 2015 hired long-time editorial page editor Arnold García, who previously served as a Pulitzer Prize jury member, to join the company as a senior advisor for media and community relations.
Crosswind in 2015 accounted for nearly nearly $2 million in net fees, according to O'Dwyer's rankings of PR firms.