Close to 100 nominations were sent in this year to be considered for our 2019 Publisher of the Year, making this group of submissions one of our strongest yet. We heard from publications from around the world in different market sizes, but we noticed similar qualities in all our publishers—their tenacity and determination, their creative visions and their ability to lead their newsrooms to success. I wish we could mention every single person who was nominated, but there are a couple publishers we do want to highlight.
Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen was recognized for “finding new and innovative sources of funding for key coverage areas in Seattle, starting with Education Lab and expanding into Traffic Lab then Project Homeless. “
“This year, the Times launched its most ambitious effort yet, asking the community to underwrite the funding of one of the largest investigative teams at a U.S. metro newspaper,” wrote Times president and CFO Alan Fisco. “The Investigative Journalism Fund has already raised more than $500,000, enabling us to hire three investigative journalists now with plans to add four more early next year and more beyond that. In total, the Seattle Times has raised over $5.5 million to support these combined efforts.”
Maribel Perez Wadsworth leads the USA TODAY Network, where she oversees 109 local properties and its flagship national news outlet, USA TODAY.
“In a tumultuous time for the media industry, Wadsworth made critical investments in innovative digital storytelling, harnessed the true potential of a national network and realigned resources for maximum impact for the communities she serves,” wrote Kevin Poortinga, vice president of digital storytelling and design studios.
Dan Shea and Judi Terzotis were both recognized for transforming coverage of New Orleans at The Advocate.
“In six years, (Shea) launched a daily newspaper in New Orleans, did the same in Lafayette, purchased four struggling weekly titles, and launched a half dozen new weeklies serving the suburbs of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. He tripled web traffic and modernized our printing plant,” wrote John Georges, CEO of Georges Media Group. “In 2018, we brought in Judi…to became publisher of our Lafayette-area daily, The Acadiana Advocate. All of their hard work came together in 2019: Within two weeks, our newsroom won its first Pulitzer Prize and we announced that we purchased The Times-Picayune and restored it as a daily publication.” Recently, Terzotis was named publisher of all of Georges Media Co. titles and Shea became chairman of the parent company.
In Jackson, Calif., Ledger Dispatch publisher Jack Mitchell “energized the staff and the community with our app that links the printed page with augmented reality,” wrote Beth Barnard, advertising director. “Adding video to articles, ads and more. Linking to websites, ticket portals and donations sites, all beginning with the printed page…Our circulation has increased including a younger demographic, ad revenue has increased 20 percent and staff is revitalized with new ideas. Ideas that have brought our community engagement to an all-time high.”
These publishers, in addition to the ones not mentioned, deserve all our praise, but we are pleased to name P.J. Browning of the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. as our Publisher of the Year. Browning has more than 30 years in the industry, and for the past three years, she has pushed her newsroom to become digital leaders with positive results. As you read our cover story and get to know Browning, you’ll learn why she stood out among the nominations this year.