Editorial: Up and At ‘Em

This year’s call for nominations for our 2015 Publisher of the Year yielded more than 40 names. We looked for a successful newspaper publisher, who understood that the “accelerating pace of change in today’s information age (required) a greater need for effective leadership.” These men and women acknowledge the constant changes in the industry, but they don’t let their struggles keep them down. They rise to their feet and press on because that’s their job. We read about publishers who brought companies back from bankruptcy, encouraged innovations in the newsroom, and celebrated victories in the advertising department. So, thank you to everyone who sent in a nomination.

At the Observer Publishing Co. in Washington, Pa., publisher Tom Northrop was recognized for leading his company through some tough decisions, such as shuttering their press and outsourcing their printing to a local partner. “Although this was tough on Tom in many ways, it was the right move for our company,” wrote Matt Miller, chief revenue officer. “Through his leadership, we are now a company without debt. In fact, we have money in the bank and turn a profit year after year.”

Brenda Speth of the Napa Valley Register in Napa, Calif. guided her paper through a 6.0 earthquake last summer. Although their office was damaged, the paper never missed a deadline. “She maintained operations, budget and morale through the disaster and the following year,” wrote editor Sean Scully. “At the same time, she has presided over the implementation of new regionalized editorial, advertising, and production systems, which would have been challenging even without the mayhem wrought by the earthquake.”

Robin Quillon of the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa. was recognized for being “an innovator and high-energy leader,” instrumental in maximizing revenue opportunities, such as a bridal expo, an upcoming inaugural ice festival, and revamping the paper’s TMC product, which resulted in an 140 percent revenue increase.

POLITICO publisher Robert Allbritton was acknowledged for pushing his newsroom hard for quality, sustaining a strong and enduring business model, and for his self-confidence and believing in media for the right reasons.

We even received a nomination from Lithuania Morning, honoring its publisher.

It just shows you that near and far, publishers are giving 110 percent of themselves.

Our 2015 Publisher of the Year has seen it all: the ups and downs of the industry, the decline of print and the rise of digital, but Michael “Mac” Tully, Denver Post president and chief executive officer, keeps on climbing upward. Tully’s publishing experience has taken him from Kansas City to San Jose. Now that he’s been at Denver for two years, he calls it the “pinnacle” of his journalism career. He’s quick to give credit to his editorial and advertising teams for creating innovations and leading the charge toward a healthy, viable future, but he also understands that to be a publisher in today’s industry, you’re going to get knocked down, but what matters is that you get back up.

Next year, we will put out another call for nominations, and we’re looking forward to reading more about the publishers who are overcoming hurdles and testing their limits. The role of publisher will continue to morph and adapt, but one thing will remain: their persevering spirit.

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