Lindsay native named Merced Sun-Star editor

Michelle Morgante
Michelle Morgante The Associated Press

An accomplished journalist and Lindsay native with experience in reporting and editing jobs across the United States and Latin America has been named managing editor of the Merced Sun-Star.

Michelle Morgante, who has served in various news and management roles with The Associated Press since the early 1990s, will join the paper Sept. 8. Joe Kieta, editor of The Modesto Bee and the Sun-Star, announced her appointment at a staff meeting Wednesday.

Morgante, 47, will relocate to Merced from Mexico City, where she serves as editor of the AP’s Latin America desk. She will be responsible for the day-to-day editorial operations of Merced County’s only daily newspaper. She replaces David Hill, who retired in May after leading the Sun-Star newsroom for three years.

“I’m excited to return to the Valley. I grew up in Lindsay, which is a farming-based community and a smaller town like Merced,” Morgante said Wednesday.

She joins a newspaper that has been recognized as the best of its size in the state in the most recent California Newspaper Publishers Association contest.

A mother of three boys, ages 6, 8, and 15, Morgante said she is eager to move her family, including their pet beagle “Cooper,” back to the San Joaquin Valley.

“This is really a homecoming for me and I’m thrilled to be coming back. I know there is a strong sense of community there and that’s something I really want my children to experience,” she said.

Kieta described Morgante as a “perfect fit” for the newsroom and the community. He said she was identified after a nationwide search and was chosen from an impressive list of applicants.

“She has very deep roots in the Valley and her wide-ranging experience in markets around the world will help us raise our game,” he said.

Morgante has been editor of the AP’s Latin America desk for more than a year. She previously served more than two years as the AP’s chief of bureau for Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota and spent seven years as assistant bureau chief for the AP’s Florida/Caribbean division in Miami.

The University of California at Santa Barbara, graduate began her career in 1991 in Detroit, eventually moving on to bureaus in Portand, Ore.; Denver; and later New York. Her experience includes reporting in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Colombia and various cities in Mexico.

Kieta said Morgante’s bilingual skills should help build a stronger relationship between the community and the newspaper.

Morgante spoke about her family’s immigrant background. “My father’s side of the family stretches back to Italy and my mother’s family came from Mexico,” she said. “My mother immigrated here and settled in the Valley and continues to call it home.”

She said her background can help her reach out “to all parts of the community.”