Reprinted with permission.
He has been described as piloting the ship through turbulent waters while staying calm amid the chaos.
And he has at least two things in common with NFL quarterback Tom Brady.
Santa Fe New Mexican Publisher Tom Cross, who oversaw the newspaper during a stifling recession and the COVID-19 crisis, announced his retirement Wednesday.
Cross, joined by Robin Martin, the owner of the newspaper, told staff members of his decision in meetings at The New Mexican‘s printing plant on Santa Fe’s south side and at its newsroom on Washington Avenue.
“It’s been a great run,” he said at the downtown newsroom.
Cross, 67, came to the newspaper in 2012 as its controller and has headed the newspaper’s operations since 2014. He will turn the reins over to the incoming publisher, Patrick Dorsey, 54, in late March and will remain at The New Mexican into the fall.
Cross reflected on the Great Recession that still engulfs the newspaper industry, both in New Mexico and throughout the country, when he arrived in 2012, and credited the staff for helping to keep operation afloat.
“We weathered 2012 and 2013, and then we started getting in a groove, and then COVID hits and just turned the world upside down — turned our operation upside down,” Cross said. “But you guys were here in the thick and the thin of it, and you got us through it.”
During Cross’ tenure, The New Mexican expanded its printing operation and remained a key news source in the northern half of the state despite the difficult times.
“I really appreciate what Tom did for us because he pulled us through that recession,” Martin said. “When a lot of newspapers were struggling with ad revenue and in the mid-teens had to do layoffs and everything, Tom was able to help us get a lot of commercial printing money.”
Martin described Cross as calm and capable, with good ideas he can implement with “a minimum of fuss.”
When asked what she’ll miss most about him, she replied: “If I had a suggestion, and he thought it was a good one, without any drama it would be done.”
Longtime employees spoke of Cross guiding the newspaper with a steady hand without micromanaging.
“Tom Cross has the ability to keep things running in the midst of chaos,” said Inez Russell Gomez, the newspaper’s editorial page editor. “He respected the role of independent news and opinion coverage as much as any publisher I’ve ever seen in all the years I’ve worked. He let us do our job without interference.”
Henry M. Lopez, creative marketing and digital enterprise editor, said Cross was the reason he returned to The New Mexican.
Lopez said Cross is a solid leader who also is humble.
”Tom Cross is a rock,” Lopez said. “He is so amazingly skilled but lacks the arrogance that a lot of other people would have in his position.”
Dorsey, who will succeed Cross, has a long career in the newspaper industry, including stops as a publisher in Tallahassee and Sarasota, Fla., and most recently as publisher of the Austin American-Statesman.
While Dorsey headed the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism.
In a telephone interview, Dorsey said he feels fortunate to follow in the path Cross has laid for The New Mexican in the past decade, and to be publisher of a thriving, family-owned newspaper that has built a strong community presence.
“Santa Fe is a great place to live — really unique community, wonderful history,” Dorsey said. “But that family ownership and that commitment to the community is really kinda what was the most attractive thing of coming there.”
Cross opened his announcement by asking staffers if they knew what he had in common with Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback who had 20 stellar seasons with the New England Patriots.
“They’re both named Tom?” one staffer asked.
“Dated Gisele [Bündchen]?” another asked.
Turns out they both announced they were retiring Wednesday morning.
For Cross, Oct. 15 is a sort of magic date — it’s when he entered the industry in 1985, when he started work at The New Mexican and when he officially will depart the newspaper to retire.
“I’m very appreciative of everything you guys have done,” Cross said to staff members. “I just encourage you to continue doing what you do.”
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