Our Publisher of the Year issue is one of our favorite issues to put together. It gives us a chance to hear the success stories taking place at newspapers around the country, and it gives us a glimpse of the hard work publishers are doing everyday at their companies. For those same reasons, our Publisher of the Year issue is also one of our hardest issues to put together.
This year, readers sent in more than 60 nominations. Going through those names was not an easy task; each story was unique because each publisher is unique. Every market brings its own set of challenges, and it was encouraging to read about how publishers met them head-on.
John and Jennifer Garrett of Community Impact Newspapers (Pflugerville, Texas) were recognized for growing their print and digital products. Since its creation in 2005, the company has expanded, printing 26 editions, covering 45 communities, with 2 million papers in circulation. In addition, digital user growth per year is up 18 percent and page views are up 28 percent year over year, making the year to date digital growth in dollars 55 percent.
"John and Jennifer Garrett outmaneuver the competition with an unprecedented vision to fill the void; a business model that continues to thrive, but more importantly, increases civic engagement and impacts communities for the better," wrote Grace Dearing of Veritas Group.
At the Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat, publisher Steve Falk was recognized for leading the newsroom during the worst wildfires in the state's history.
According to human resources director Emily DeBacker, "He was in his office by the time the fire jumped six lanes of freeway and consumed an entire neighborhood... He funneled calls to the newsroom and demanded action and answers from politicians." As a result of the paper's "lucid and tenacious coverage," the newsroom was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News.
Brian Burns came to the Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger in early 2017 after serving as publisher of the Tampa Tribune.
"His most immediate impact, which occurred amid a high degree of uncertainty and which has lasted throughout his tenure here, was to...