Today, I have an announcement of my own: I’m leaving my job as Focus page editor of the Orange County Register and moving to Texas.


Starting in early December, I’ll be managing editor for visuals of the Victoria Advocate — a paper I’ve admired greatly and about which I’ve written often, here in the blog.

Monday, Advocate editor Chris Cobler announced to his staff:

I’m delighted to announce that Charles Apple will be joining our team as managing editor/visuals.

As an industry leader in newspaper design, Charles needs little introduction, but I’ll briefly summarize his wide range of experience: Early in his career, he was a sports stringer for the Rock Hill (S.C.) Evening Herald and later became a graphic artist there. His remarkable work led him to similar positions at the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer, the Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register.

He served for five years as graphics director of the Virginian Pilot until the recession hit in 2008. From there, he further enhanced his national reputation as an international consultant and through his blog, which is a must-read for all newspaper designers…

To bring in a journalist of this caliber, [managing editor] Becky, [design director] Kiko and I discussed how best to structure the newsroom. Through those conversations, we landed on the title of managing editor/visuals… Becky’s title will be adjusted slightly to managing editor/content, but her job description remains unchanged, except that she obviously will be working closely with Charles on the visual aspect of our content.

You might be wondering why Charles would come to a smaller newspaper like the Victoria Advocate from his current position as Focus editor at the Orange County (Calif.) Register. As many of you know, Charles has been a huge fan of the creative work we have done at the Advocate for many years, and that’s how he and I first became acquainted. With the turmoil in the industry, Charles believes community newspapers like the Advocate are the future and appreciates, as I do, the family ownership here.

His first day is set for Dec. 1. He and his wife, Sharon, will be in Victoria Oct. 29-Nov. 2 on an apartment-hunting expedition.

As exciting as my new job sounds, please understand: I leave California with a great deal of sadness. I love my colleagues at the Register and my editors have been very kind to me. Focus page editor has been the most fun job I’ve ever had.

In addition, my daughter and I just love California.


Some of you know I have occasional health issues with asthma, allergies and the like. I’ve never breathed better than I have here in Orange County. I imagine I’ll be allergic to every other molecule in the air in Texas, just as I was in Virginia, Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina and the rest.

Sadly, my wife, Sharon, never made the move to California. She came to see us a couple of times, but she lingered a bit in Atlanta to help deal with family matters.


But, sadly, it’s time for us to move on. I’m just lucky I have a top-notch outfit like the Advocate — and a top-notch editor like Chris — who’s willing to provide me with a new professional challenge.

The Advocate is a family-owned daily that circulates an average of 26,531 papers on weekdays. The city is about two hours from San Antonio, two hours from Houston, two hours from Austin and two hours from Corpus Christi. It’s maybe 30 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.


Victoria is a gorgeous little city with deep historical roots. You guys know how much I love history. I was completely charmed by the place during my visit there several weeks ago.


The whole small-town, family thing was driven home — almost literally — when my mom drove down from her place in Fort Worth and crashed my interview.


The Advocate likes to surprise and delight its readers as often as possible. As Chris notes, I’ve blogged about the paper frequently over the years.

The plan is for me to continue building Focus pages here in Southern California through Thanksgiving. We plan to move over the holiday.

Chris covered the standard biographical info above, so let’s skip that this time. If you feel compelled to see more details about my career, read this item I posted 20 months ago, when I moved to the west coast.

A great way to sample some of my work here in California would be to read about the two-day Focus page series on the Beach Boys I did back in June.


Or, you can check out my gallery at NewsPageDesigner. I’m several months behind in posting my work, but you’ll definitely get the idea.

Before I got into teaching, I spent several years as a graphics reporter, artist and editor. One of my favorite battle stories is the work my staff did covering the tragic loss of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003.


Read more about that here.

Before I got into management, I was known for my work as a graphic artist. This was the assignment that really took my career to the next level.


That ran in May 1995.

Not only did I design and draw that page, I also researched and wrote it. I was also known for my work reporting graphics for breaking news stories.

More recently, I’ve done a bit of freelance graphic work. One of my most successful projects has been a big election grid that I originally built in 2000 and have updated for every presidential election cycle since.


In 2012, I sold the graphic to 36 newspapers around the country. Read about that project here.

Chris mentioned I’ve done teaching and consulting work internationally. That’s true: I’ve been to the Philippines, Nigeria (below), Kenya and especially South Africa.


If you put my six trips to South Africa together, it would total more than nine months.

My very first overseas assignment, however, was to England. And the whole thing was a bit of a fluke. I recently wrote about that here.

When I travel, I blog about my adventures. Here’s a sample from my time in Nigeria in March of 2012…


…and here’s my final dispatch from Nairobi (above) in August of that same year.

The last time I was on Johannesburg, it snowed. And it never snows there.


In addition to work, I also manage to get in a little fun from time to time. One time, I went to a nature preserve and got to watch them feed the kitties.


When I’m in Cape Town, I like to drive around and take in the scenery.


Or I’ll just watch the mountain. Table mountain is just incredible.

So I’m looking forward to moving to Texas and I’m looking forward to getting back into teaching+mentoring mode.

This is gonna be fun. Stay tuned.

This article has 12 comments

  1. Fred Matamoros

    Congratulations Charles! They’re so lucky to have landed you! I know what you mean about being sad to leave Calif. Having grown up there, and then getting the chance to spend the 15 months at the Register and hang out with the amazing staff, and my family; I thought things would turn out differently.
    We’re real happy in Texas though and can’t wait to welcome you and the Apple family! We’ll be less than 3 hours away! Congrats again, couldn’t happen to a more talented journalist, and a even better human being!

  2. Chris Cobler

    Can’t wait to have you leading our team, Charles. Also can’t believe I wrote “he further enhanced his national reputation as an international consultant …” Everyone needs an editor. Glad I hired a terrific one. 

  3. Ken Marshall

    Congrats on the Texas job. You will make a good newspaper even better! I will miss the work you did in California. Those Focus pages were some of the best visual journalism I’ve seen. Go easy on the brisket. I was a slim guy before spending 11 months around that great Texas BBQ.

  4. D'Cater Joseph

    I am really looking forward to having you join our community. Victoria is indeed an under-recognized jewel on the Texas Gulf Coast.

    I’m glad to hear how much you appreciate our history and location. I hope the humidity and mold spores aren’t too taxing, and that you will love your new home. 

    Look me up sometime! I’ll be happy to show you around. 

  5. Nick Bournias

    Very happy for my hometown and for my favorite newspaper of all time.  My 45-year career as a sports writer, reporter and editor would never had started without the strong support and encouragement of the Advocate editors, staff and the Roberts family. I forever will be grateful…

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  7. mollusc

    And it goes from the ridiculous to the sublimely ridiculous. At The Orange County Register, which has struggled through layoffs and misguided expansions, the delivery of the newspaper was interrupted after the company failed to pay The Los Angeles Times for the service. In November, reporters and other employees at The Register were asked to field phone calls from irate customers who didn’t receive their papers, as part of a “We Care” initiative. And, as my colleague Christine Haughney pointed out, employees who made 20 calls over two days became eligible to win “four Maine lobsters, fresh steamers and New England clam chowder.”

    Now that’s some mighty disruptive thinking: Instead of hiring people to take care of customers, why not entice other employees to do it, and pay them in crustacean instead of cold cash?

    It gets even more difficult to believe. Reporters are also among those now being asked to, um, deliver the newspaper.

    People willing to rise early and deliver the paper on critical days would receive not cash, but gift cards.

    Not to out done in strange announcements, the ORANGE COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL ran
    in Nov 10th (pg20) a picture of Kushner: CEO of Freedom Communications with an
    media tidbit that LAW360 website had published the legal papers for two(2)
    disgruntled investors to have the OCR placed in receivership as the company
    is insolvent? Talk about the OC Business Journal bottom feeding for news!

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