Mitch Pugh, regarded as one of the journalism industry’s young innovators, will be the next editor of The Post and Courier.

Pugh, 39, was hired following a nationwide search to fill the top newsroom job at South Carolina’s largest newspaper, and is expected to start work in March.

His work as editor of the smaller Sioux City (Iowa) Journal is credited with helping that paper win top industry recognition for both its print and digital products.

With Pugh leading the newsroom, the Iowa paper was named one of “10 That Do It Right” in 2009 by Editor & Publisher, a journalism industry publication that cited the paper’s focus on local news and attention to providing unique content online.

Post and Courier Publisher P.J. Browning said that at the Sioux City Journal the digital-first approach to covering breaking news, weather and other core topics has earned national recognition, and its aggressive social media strategy has become a model in parent company Lee Enterprises and beyond.

Pugh also led an Associated Press Managing Editors initiative that looked at the best ways for newsrooms to maintain ethical standards and credibility while breaking news on digital platforms.

“I’m really thrilled to have the opportunity to come to Charleston and be a part of what is clearly an experienced, talented news team,” Pugh said Monday from Iowa after the announcement was made.

He said The Post and Courier has a strong tradition of watchdog reporting and community-focused reporting, which he plans to build upon.

Pugh said he wants to experiment with different ideas, and said he looks forward to the challenge.

The Sioux City Journal, with roughly half the readership of The Post and Courier, won a National Newspaper Association award in 2012 for best newspaper website, and the same year won a Local Media Association award for newspaper of the year.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that we found someone the caliber of Mitch to lead The Post and Courier newsroom,” Browning said. “I am excited about his passion for our industry and look forward to the great things to come.”

Ron Peterson, publisher of the Sioux City Journal, said the newsroom there “will miss Mitch’s unmatched dedication to quality local journalism.”

Pugh, an Illinois native, replaces Bill Hawkins, who retired in September after serving as both editor and publisher of the paper.

Pugh has been editor of the Sioux City paper since 2007, and previously held editing positions at other papers in Illinois and Colorado.

He started his journalism career as a part-time reporter covering women’s sports in Springfield, Ill., in 1996, while earning an English degree at University of Illinois Springfield.

Pugh has a wife and an 8-year-old son who are expected to join him in the Charleston area following the end of the school year.