By: Debra Gersh Hernandez
Newspaper Association of America board
promotes from within; names its
vice president/public policy to the top job sp.
JOHN F. STURM suggested his family name its new puppy Uzal.
Not surprisingly, he was overruled by his two kids, who chose Jasper, after their father’s Indiana hometown, but Sturm’s suggestion did not come out of left field.
The same day Jasper came home, the Newspaper Association of America board ? chaired by Uzal H. Martz Jr. ? selected Sturm as its new president and CEO.
Sturm, the NAA’s senior vice president/public policy and general counsel since February 1992, was chosen by the board of directors to succeed Cathleen P. Black on Jan. 1, 1996.
It was barely a week after Black announced she was leaving NAA to become president of the Hearst Magazine Division, (E&P, Dec. 2, p. 15), that the board met and chose Sturm.
“I think, first of all, it’s a sign of the strength of NAA that we could pick someone from the senior management team,” commented Martz, president and publisher of the Pottsville (Pa.) Republican.
Martz called Sturm “an integral part of that management team,” and praised his work in the public policy arena, as well as his grounding in marketing, diversity and other key areas of importance to NAA.
Although board members earlier indicated there was a strong internal candidate for Black’s job, Martz declined to comment specifically on whether Sturm was the only candidate.
Martz said the process was “very open and inclusive,” with input from the board and membership.
“We went into this looking at all the options,” he said.
Sturm said that he had thought that at some point this might become an opportunity for him, but was “as surprised as anyone at the timing of Cathie’s announcement.”
“Everyone figured it was going to happen someday, but it’s always a surprise when it does,” he said, adding that the timing was perfect, since the board already had planned a meeting at NAA headquarters for Dec. 4.
Although he was not present during the board deliberations, Sturm said the question of whether he was interested in the job had been put to him earlier, “and the answer was a very swift ‘Yes.’ “
Martz said there would be “absolutely no change at all” in the direction of NAA with Sturm, a policy specialist, at the helm, rather than Black, who came to the job with more of a marketing background.
“Cathie Black has very strong marketing skills and, obviously, marketing is our number-one priority and will continue to be so,” Martz said. “Cathie obviously relied on members of her team for technology and public policy, and John will do the same.”
Sturm concurred, noting that the most important thing he can do is keep the momentum, focus and priorities that have been established at NAA.
“As an organization, we are not only stable, we’re dynamic,” he said, praising Black for her work “redoing” NAA.
“In many ways, for me, even though it’s not my background, I really firmly believe our advertising and marketing activities are of absolute prime importance and are unique,” Sturm said.
“That’s one of the things we think makes NAA stand apart from, and a couple steps ahead of, other organizations.”
In addition, Sturm “was involved in a lot of discussions [about advertising and marketing] as general counsel at one time or another, so it’s not a blank slate.”
As to a successor for Sturm, Martz laughed and said, “One step at a time.
“John’s going to have to work that out,” he added. “One of the real joys I’ve seen as chairman is that NAA has developed a very strong A-team and B-team. There are a lot of good, strong players.”
Although appointing a new chief lobbyist is Sturm’s responsibility, Martz noted that Sturm “does not operate in a vacuum” and the “officers will work very closely with him on that.”
With a “very, very strong senior- and middle-management team in place,” Sturm said he feels there is “no need for radical surgery.”
“I feel very comfortable with the folks around the table, both professionally and personally,” he said. “That’s one of the byproducts of promoting an internal person. There is stability.”
?( John F. Sturm) [Photo & Caption]