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Quartz executive editor Antunes dies from cancer

January 28, 2020

Posted by Chris Roush

Xana Antunes

Xana Antunes, the executive editor of Quartz and a longtime business journalist, died Monday from cancer. She was 55.

She was a well-respected editor who commanded respect because of how well she worked with everybody. Last year, Antunes received the Front Page Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Newswomen’s Club of New York.

Before becoming executive editor, Antunes led new initiatives since joining Quartz in 2014. She created its Video Lab, which experiments with different forms of visual storytelling, set up its Talent Lab, and edited features.

“Xana was the soul of our newsroom,” said Quartz CEO Zach Seward. “Any new and exciting initiative at Quartz likely had Xana’s imprint on it. She was also Quartz’s chief problem-solver, helping reporters and editors through their biggest challenges, from feature stories in need of reworking to career paths in search of a new direction. There was rarely an issue that couldn’t be addressed by a long and heartfelt conversation with Xana. No one was more loyal to Quartz or enthusiastic about our mission, which made her the perfect person to recruit so many people here, spreading the word about a newsroom in which she took immense pride.”

Antunes also served on the board of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, where she redesigned its Best in Business award competition.

“What made working with Xana fun and interesting was that she was always questioning conventional wisdom and asking if there was some alternative way to consider an idea or a problem that needed solving,” said Brad Foss, the Associated Press business editor who worked with her at SABEW. “She was a unifying voice, too. She was just naturally good at taking bits of ideas from several different people and finding a way to include various perspectives, even while pushing her own particular point of view.”

She previously was executive editor and vice president at CNBC Digital. Ben Berkowitz, who worked with Antunes at CNBC, called her the best editor he has ever worked with.

“There was no screaming, there was no scolding, there were no theatrics, there was just Xana — and she always knew exactly what to do, you knew that she knew exactly what to do, and you knew that if you listened to her everything was going to work fine,” said Berkowitz, now vice president of digital at WNBC in New York.

“You would have a hard time finding someone in this business who didn’t feel like it was a gift to work for her,” he added. “She took a chance on me for no particularly good reason and quite literally changed my life.”

During her two years at CNBC, Antunes led an expansion of the editorial staff of CNBC.com and the launching of a new home page. CNBC’s digital readers have increased by more than 50 percent under Antunes.

“Xana was one of the best people editors I have ever worked for, such a rare breed in newsrooms,” said Tom Lowry, who also worked with Antunes at CNBC and is now editor in chief of Skift.

Before joining CNBC, Antunes had been editor of Crain’s New York Business. Under her leadership, online unique visitors increased by 115 percent and Crain’s New York won 64 national journalism awards, including General Excellence from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2012 and 2011 and a Sigma Delta Chi from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Before that, Antunes was executive editor of Fortune and CNNMoney.com, and oversaw the development and integration of online versions of Time Inc.’s financial publications, including Fortune, Money, Fortune Small Business and Business 2.0 under the CNNMoney umbrella.

She also worked at the New York Post, which she joined in 1995 as deputy business editor. She later became its editor.

Antunes moved to New York in 1993 as a foreign correspondent for the London Evening Standard. Earlier, she was an on air reporter for the U.K.’s Channel 4 Business Daily.

Antunes has a Bachelor of Arts from Leeds University and a post graduate diploma in journalism from City University, London.

There are plans for a scholarship in her name. Those interested in being notified when the scholarship has been set up can email xanascholarship@gmail.com.

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