Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Observer managing editor leaves legacy of laughter, mentoring

After six years at the helm of the Longboat and Sarasota Observers, Garwood is moving on.

  • By
  • | 7:00 a.m. February 2, 2023
Eric Garwood started as managing editor of the Longboat Observer and Sarasota Observer in 2017.
Eric Garwood started as managing editor of the Longboat Observer and Sarasota Observer in 2017.
  • Longboat Key
  • News
  • Share

Every April, the Observer has a longstanding tradition for readers that has come to be a treat for some, and a trick for others: Our annual April Fool’s edition. 

Observer reporters and editors always work to be witty and clever and find the perfect mix of stories that are equally realistic and outlandish. But the past six years, one person has taken this edition — and anything requiring humor, satire and fun — to a whole new level: Managing Editor Eric Garwood. 

Which is why, upon hearing that he is hanging up his Observer hat to take a position to lead the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation’s newly created Community News Collaborative, we instantly felt the sadness of losing Garwood — and his  trademark brand of comedy. 

But it’s not just his sense of humor that will be missed. Anyone who has worked with him knows that he’s a tour de force: He wrote many clear, concise news stories keeping Longboaters and Sarasotans informed; he was the king of breaking news on;  he took pictures that showed something no one else saw; and he came up with story ideas that promised to surprise and delight readers with a fresh take on what could otherwise be tired issues. 

He has been a mentor, a leader and an editor in every sense of the word. As Executive Editor Kat Hughes said at a recent company meeting, “He is the soul of his papers.” 

To say we’ll miss him is an understatement, and judging by the positive comments we get on his Longboat Key Cops Corner items, which he has written for more than five years, we know you will too. 

Since 2017 he has been leading staff to create content that’s better, more engaging and different, so we weren’t surprised when the committee charged by the Barancik Foundation and WUSF Public Media to hire an executive editor of the CNC arrived upon Garwood as its top choice. 

At the CNC, Garwood, 60, will oversee a team of four multimedia reporters supported through an initiative of nearly $600,000 from the Barancik Foundation. They will create free written, video and audio content for syndication to more than a dozen news outlets across the Gulf Coast with coverage in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties. 

At the Observer Media Group, Garwood’s papers won too many awards to count under his leadership, including in 2021 when both the Longboat Observer and the Sarasota Observer were recognized with the Florida Press Association’s general excellence awards in their respective circulation categories.

Before joining the Observer Media Group in 2017, Garwood served in a variety of editing roles for nearly 25 years at Florida Today, the Gannett Co. Inc. news site in Melbourne on Florida’s east coast and the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina. 

We wish him all the best in his new role. We know he’ll do great. As for April Fool’s, it is notorious for using pen names as bylines. But you’ll know if it’s him by the laughs.


Related Articles

  • April 19, 2018
Is it curtain time?