Emily Walsh has been named president of the Observer Media Group, a family-owned and operated multimedia company. In her new role she will continue a multigenerational lineage at the helm of the Florida media company.
The Observer announced Walsh’s elevation in the company on the 43rd anniversary of the start of the Longboat Observer. Matt Walsh, CEO and co-founder of the Observer Media Group, added: “Emily has been in training since she was 15. She has ink in her veins.”
As the family’s fourth generation in the newspaper business, Walsh will oversee the Sarasota-Manatee-based Longboat, Sarasota, Siesta Key and East County Observers, SEASON and LWR Life Magazines and YourObserver.com; Business Observer and BusinessObserverFL.com; and Orlando-based West Orange Times and Southwest Orange Observers, SEASON and Baldwin Park Magazines and OrangeObserver.com.
Walsh has served as publisher of the Observer Media Group’s Sarasota-based newspapers, magazines and websites since 2016. She joined the company 20 years ago as a photographer for the Black Tie section of the Longboat Observer, later serving as editor of the Black Tie and Arts & Entertainment sections, an advertising sales executive and chief digital officer.
Walsh has taken a leading role in the company’s digital operations for more than a decade, managing the launch of YourObserver.com in 2006 and the digital marketing and advertising agency Digital Observer Media in 2013.
Kat Hughes has been promoted to chief operating officer, responsible for seven Observer publications, four quarterly magazines, three websites and the Black-Tie mobile app. She will continue to serve as executive editor of the Sarasota-area Observers.
As COO, Hughes will provide operational leadership bringing managerial and administrative procedures, reporting structures and operation controls to OMG. She will work closely with Walsh and the leadership team to execute and coordinate projects that will help drive results, spur growth and increase overall efficiency.
Hughes joined the Observer Media Group in 2004 as a community reporter and continued to grow her career in the news industry. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She then went on to earn her Master of Business Administration from the University of Wyoming. Hughes rejoined the Observer in 2011 as managing editor of the Business Observer. In 2013, she was promoted to executive editor of the community Observers and Business Observer.
Walsh commented on Hughes’s promotion, saying: “Kat excels at many of the things that aren’t my favorite things to do, which makes us the perfect fit. I’m excited to work together with her to do what we do best at OMG — innovate and elevate — and continue our trajectory of being the largest independently owned newspaper company in Florida.”
Both Walsh and Hughes are heavily involved in the local community, serving on several boards of directors of various nonprofit and service organizations. Walsh currently is the vice chair of the Florida Press Association and serves on America’s Newspapers’ board of directors.