Times-Union Bolsters Management; Publisher Brings in Executives to Develop Plans for the Paper to Meet Today's Challenges

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BAUERLEIN

The Florida Times-Union has hired several new executives for the management team assembled by Publisher Jim Currow.

The hirings are part of a management revamp that has been under way since Currow was appointed publisher in December. He has tapped executives from other newspapers owned by Morris Communications Co., the Times-Union's parent company.

Among the new hires are Delinda Fogel, vice president of strategic planning; Robert Todd, vice president of operations; and Mark Lane, director of sales and marketing.

"We needed some new leadership in our company," Currow said. "I reached out to people who I knew had proven track records. They're all people with consummate people skills."

Currow said combined with other longer-serving Times-Union executives, the new managers will devise a strategy for the paper at a time the industry faces financial pressure. According to the Newspaper Association of America, newspaper advertising revenue dropped by 7.9 percent in 2007.

"Our industry is going through turbulent times," Currow said. "There's almost a perfect storm of events that are taking place right now."

Currow said the Internet has been a double-edged sword for newspapers. The Web gives the ability to post articles faster. But rival Internet sites are competing with newspapers for advertising business.

In addition, he said, the cost of newsprint -- the paper used in newspaper production -- has been soaring. Other materials used in the publishing process also have increased in price, he said.

In one marker of the financial challenge, Morris Publishing Group LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Morris Communications, reported operating income for the first quarter of 2008 was down 28 percent compared with the same period in 2007. The Times-Union is among the newspapers and other publications that comprise Morris Publishing.

Currow said the challenge will be to reduce costs without sacrificing quality.

"That's where the difficulty lies because it's a delicate balance trying to get the right content into the paper that meets the readers' needs," he said.

Fogel and Todd moved to vice president posts at the Times-Union after working at the Savannah Morning News, owned by Morris Communications.

Fogel was the chief financial officer at the Savannah paper, which she joined in 2004. …