Aurora Media Group Announces New Management

By: Press Release

AURORA, Colo. Beginning a series of strategic changes, principals of the Aurora Media Group, new owner of The Aurora Sentinel and Buckley Guardian newspapers, announced new additions to the staff that will help shape the daily, weekly and digital news and advertising sources for Colorado’s third-largest city.

“We are excited about serving a community as culturally diverse, innovative and thriving as Aurora,” said James Gold, publisher of The Aurora Sentinel and Buckley Guardian. “We’ll always strive to provide the community with exceptional journalism and new marketing solutions across print and digital media.”

Gold is managing partner of Aurora Media Group, parent company of the Sentinel and associated media products. Gold and Tom Ratkovich also co-direct Leap Media Partners, which created the Aurora Media Group. The Aurora newspapers were sold to Aurora Media Group on Feb. 24 for an undisclosed price.

Gold said he’s eager to implement changes to the newspapers, digital and mobile products under development and expects readers and advertisers will be equally enthusiastic about new content, new ways to get it and better ways for advertisers to reach potential customers.
Readers can be confident that the mission of the newspapers and other products will continue to focus on bringing vital and compelling news, features and other content to readers, and that favorite parts of the newspapers will be enhanced by new talent coming on board, said Editor Dave Perry, who with other newsroom staffers will remain with the new venture.

“This new management will be a good fit for Aurora, and it’s already clear that Aurora’s news sources are going to be more important than ever to everyone who lives and works here.”

Also joining the news staff is John Lehndorff, a veteran Colorado journalist who is widely known for extensive food and restaurant contributions to the Rocky Mountain News and other media outlets. Lehndorff is content director of The Aurora Sentinel and Buckley Guardian, responsible for feature content and developing new publications. He is also a staff features writer and editor.

Joining the existing staff are:

James S. Gold, Publisher and Managing Partner
James Gold has served in senior management positions with U.S. media companies for more than 20 years. His professional experience includes leadership roles in strategic planning, market research, print and digital brand development, marketing communications, customer relationship management and strategic transformational change.
His previous position at The New York Times Company required the ability to lead strategy formulation, brand portfolio development and organizational transformation.
After receiving a bachelor of arts degree from Columbia University, he started his journalism career here on the Colorado front range when he founded his own award-winning magazine in 1985.
Gold has completed executive management programs at the American Press Institute and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. He is past-president of the International Newsmedia Marketing Association North American Board of Directors. In the past three years, he has been spoken about strategic transformation, consumer marketing and CRM at media conferences throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and South East Asia.

Tom Ratkovich, Managing Partner
Tom Ratkovich is the founder of ASTECH InterMedia, a company dedicated to facilitating the data-driven transformation of newsmedia companies. The firm, which supports the strategic marketing initiatives of more than 200 companies worldwide, was acquired by smartFOCUS Group PLC in May 2008. Ratkovich continues to serve as president of smartFOCUS Astech.
Ratkovich is a past president of the International Newsmedia Marketing Association’s North America Board of Directors, having served on that Board for seven years. He was recently elected to a three-year term on the organization’s International Board of Directors.
He has been a featured speaker at newspaper conferences on four continents and his articles have appeared in several marketing and media publications.
Ratkovich received his bachelor of arts in economics and masters degree in education from Occidental College in Los Angeles. Prior to founding ASTECH in 1992 he held management positions with DRI/McGraw-Hill, Claritas and National Demographics and Lifestyles.

John Lehndorff, Content Director
John Lehndorff is an award-winning journalist, editor, critic, consultant and culinary expert with a 30-year record of creating innovative content.
He has most recently written for diverse publications ranging from Edible Front Range to Bluegrass Unlimited, produces a blog tracking U.S. and global food trends, hosts a weekly food radio program, and is a member of the advisory Culinary Council for the Sterling Rice Group.
He was features, food and other section editors for the Daily Camera, he created a new food section template strongly focused on local fare, community involvement and reader interactivity. His Nibbles column was distributed nationally by Knight-Ridder and Scripps. Mr. Lehndorff also served stints as features, entertainment and travel editor.
In eight years at the Rocky Mountain News, he reviewed more than 400 restaurants, wrote the annual Dining Guide awards section, produced podcasts, edited seasonal travel sections, penned news stories directly for the web, and won awards for his year-long chronicle of the opening of a new restaurant. His World Plate feature profiled local restaurants, bakeries and markets operated by immigrants to the U.S.
Lehndorff is one of America’s foremost pie experts. He was the founding executive director of the American Pie Council; spokesperson for National Pie Day; director and chief judge of the Great American Pie Festival and National Pie Championships; editor of Pie Times; and creator of the 2010 Pie Calendar. He graduated with a BA in English/Communications from McGill University in Montreal.

Reed Baker, Creative director
Reed Baker has more than 20 years of creative and marketing management experience, most recently with the New York Times Regional Media Group where he developed and maintained multimedia brand identity and messaging for corporate communications across 15 regional media companies.
Baker was responsible for the development of new consumer and business products, implementation of shared resource strategies for content and creative services and the development and implementation of multimedia engagement strategies. Baker has focused on developing media solutions that deliver enhanced value and engagement for businesses and consumers.

Melanie Coker, Marketing director
Melanie Coker brings 23 years of newspaper marketing experience with The New York Times Company spanning circulation customer service, circulation marketing, consumer and corporate marketing.
Coker brings a holistic view of business systems, telephony, marketing, call center operations, business processes, training, financial management and leadership skills necessary to implement a variety of projects successfully.
Currently a student at Full Sail University in Florida pursuing an entertainment business degree, Coker expects her in-depth study of business and management to enhance her marketing expertise for the variety of media coming under the fold of newspaper companies.

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