By: Ed Zintel
Make no mistake, there’s nothing easy about selecting a Publisher of the Year when you receive 58 nominations, all of which merit consideration for selection, not to mention a ton of recognition for their achievements.
But that’s the dilemma the E&P editorial staff faced this past month. We could have selected any number of candidates and been happy with our choice. In the end, though, we chose Dennis Francis of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser because he embodies what makes a great publisher and met every one of the criteria on which we based our selection. Never mind that Francis successfully led a difficult merger of Hawaii’s two major newspapers into one, or that he has made his paper stronger than ever with innovative strategies and a deep commitment to his employees and the community they serve. Francis met the 21-point list of qualities we look for in a POY.
Not only did we look at each publisher’s paper(s) to ascertain whether it maintained a suitable level of profitability, that there was a balance between print and digital, that there was a diversity of product offerings, and that the content produced was of good quality, but we looked for personal qualities in the publisher, as well. Qualities such as these:
- Leadership—personal relations, communication, support from employees
- Community involvement
- Ability to implement change and hands-on involvement
- Ability to overcome obstacles/challenges
- CEO respect/beacon of excellence/reputation
- Moral dimension, personal character
- Sustained performance
Anyway, we were once again impressed with the number and quality of nominations for Publisher of the Year we received this year. They came from all around the country and the world, at papers large and small, and from the publishers’ employees, peers, spouses, brothers, sisters and, in one case, from a retired man who, in 1994, hosted Azrul Ananda of Jawa Pos in Surabaya, Indonesia, as an exchange student.
In addition to Francis, some of the top nominations included:
- Arthur Sulzberger, New York Times
- Aaron Kushner, Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
- Jim Moroney, The Dallas Morning News
- Julie Bechtel, Lincoln Journal Star
- Bradley Zeve and Erik Cushman, Monterey County Weekly (Seaside, Calif.)
- Guy Crevie, La Presse (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
- Azrul Ananda, Jawa Pos (Surabaya, Indonesia)
- Rick Bussler, The Times (Blooming Prairie, Minn.)
- Bruce Kyse, The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.)
On behalf of E&P, I want to give a big Hawaiian “aloha” (love) and “mahalo” (thank you) to all of those who took the time to send in nominations for this year’s Publisher of the Year, and I wish you all the best of luck in the coming year and years ahead.