Lawrence K. Beaupre, managing editor of The Times-Tribune and executive editor of Times-Shamrock Communications, is stepping down after 12 years at the helm of Northeast Pennsylvania's largest news-gathering operation.

In announcing his retirement to The Times-Tribune news staff on Tuesday, Beaupre said Dec. 31 will be his last day as editor.

The 67-year-old South Abington Twp. resident will continue working full-time through March 31 to assist his still-to-be named successor in the transition and then remain with the organization in a part-time, consultative capacity for another year or so.

Beaupre's retirement will cap a 50-year career in print journalism that began in 1962 as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, where he worked for The Daily Illini, the campus paper.

Beaupre, who was named managing editor of The Times-Tribune in 2000, told the staff that he had worked at larger papers in larger markets, but The Times-Tribune was his most satisfying stop.

The newspaper was large enough to produce first-rate journalism "but also small enough that I could get my arms around," he said.

"This one taught me the real meaning of local news and the impact you can have on the community with a really vigorous newspaper. ... I have enjoyed getting up every day and coming to work and trying to produce the best local newspaper we possibly could," Beaupre said.

"On some days we succeeded and, honestly, on some days we didn't, but most of the time we did."

Publisher and CEO W. Scott Lynett described Beaupre as a "transformational leader" not only for The Times-Tribune but for other newspapers under the Times-Shamrock umbrella in his role as executive editor. His successor will have large shoes to fill, he said.

"He has made our papers more locally connected and has taught us all how to better serve our readers and grow our audiences, not only in print but also digitally," Lynett said.

He said Beaupre always put readers first as he guided The Times-Tribune through one of the most challenging periods newspapers nationwide have ever experienced.

"No matter what challenges we faced or the changes he had to make, he always made sure the integrity of our product was sacrosanct," Lynett said.

Beaupre shepherded the consolidation of The Scranton Times and The Tribune into The Times-Tribune in 2005 and the redesign of The Sunday Times a couple of years later.

He said revamping the daily and Sunday editions offered an opportunity "to emphasize everything I ever wanted to do as a journalist," including what he views as his most notable achievement - preserving and enhancing the "localness" of The Times-Tribune at a time when other papers are cutting back and not covering their communities in-depth.

"This newspaper is still very relevant to readers every single day," he said. "That's because of its localness."

Earlier this year, the Keystone Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists named The Times-Tribune the "Best Overall Newspaper" in Pennsylvania.

"We produce a really good newspaper," Beaupre said.

Beaupre began his professional career in 1968 as a reporter at the Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union, where he covered stories ranging from the Attica prison riot to the Hurricane Agnes flooding. He was the Times-Union's managing editor from 1980 until 1984, when he became executive editor and vice president of the Westchester Rockland Newspapers, a group of 11 dailies based in White Plains, N.Y.

He served as editor and vice president of The Cincinnati Enquirer from 1992 to 1998.

He was a news executive on the corporate staff of Gannett Co. Inc. from 1998 until April 2000, when he became an independent consultant specializing in newsroom management and staff development.

Beaupre, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism and communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana, was inducted into the university's Illini Media Hall of Fame in 2006 as part its inaugural class.

Lynett said there will be a national search for Beaupre's successor.

Donald Farley, regional general manager of Times-Shamrock Communications, said the intent is have the managing editor position filled by the end of 2012.

Like Beaupre, whoever is selected will also have executive editor oversight of The Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre and the Standard Speaker in Hazleton.

Contact the writer: dsingleton@timesshamrock.com