Heather McKernan, publisher of the twice-weekly Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, will take over as publisher of the Concord Monitor next month, and current publisher David Sangiorgio will shift to a new job overseeing the company’s fast-growing business of creating and delivering other print publications.
That emphasis for Sangiorgio may sound surprising amid tales of journalism’s transition from newsprint to digital, but it reflects the continuing value of the circulation department and the Monitor’s two-story flexo press in its building in north Concord, said Aaron Julien, president & CEO of Newspapers of New England Inc.
NNE owns the Monitor, Ledger-Transcript and several other newspapers in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
“People still need to get a printed product, and we can do it in an efficient way that is reliable,” Julien said.
McKernan will take over as publisher of the Monitor by early May, and will remain as publisher of the Ledger-Transcript, which is based in Peterborough, where she lives. The shift to Concord will bring her back to the newspaper where she worked in human resources and as a controller for seven years before moving to the Ledger-Transcript 22 years ago.
McKernan, 52, who has a master’s in journalism as well as an MBA from Syracuse University, said she wanted to work in newspapers since her undergraduate days in New York state, a feeling reinforced by intern stints as a reporter and copy editor.
“Since junior year in college – I worked that summer as a copy editor ... there was no question about whether I would be in newspapers. The question was just about where and how,” she said. “When I went to Peterborough, that was my dream job. Now I get to have two dream jobs.”
As publisher at the Monitor, she will oversee the paper’s business side in addition to helping it serve its readers.
“We’re an industry in transition. We’re looking to have sustainability for our news product to be able to fulfill our mission, reflect our community,” McKernan said.
In light of government criticism of news coverage and restrictions on press freedoms, she added, the work of newspapers “has never been more important.”
“As we face this political tension, I think finding ways to engage readers, and have the paper be a platform for thoughtful discussions so that people can make educated decisions and act on them ... is critical to democracy, critical to having high-functioning communities,” she said.
McKernan is the first woman to be publisher of the Monitor in its 153-year history, a status that she described as exciting.
By coincidence, the Telegraph of Nashua on Monday named a new publisher who is also the first woman to hold the job at that paper.
Sangiorgio, 43, joined the Monitor in 2007 as director of circulation and became publisher in 2014. He will take on the new job of vice president of NNExt Media, a subsidiary of Newspapers of New England that plays on the company acronym.
He will oversee three businesses, including taking the firm’s experience developing its online presence, and marketing these digital services to other newspapers.
More important from an income and sales point of view, at least for the moment, will be his oversight of a pair of more traditional newspaper businesses.
One is third-party distribution, in which delivery drivers who bring the Monitor to homes also deliver other publications. That business started in 2008 and continues to grow.
“Newspapers got smarter years ago, and instead of paying 12 different people to drive down a street, why not pay one person?” Sangiorgio said.
Sangiorgio will also oversee commercial printing, or using the paper’s press to print other publications on newsprint.
This business is helped in part by the fact that some major New Hampshire newspapers have gotten rid of their presses in recent years, reducing competition. But it also reflects how print continues to survive in the digital era.
“We print everything from high school newspapers to monthly, weekly and daily newspapers,” Sangiorgio said. “We’re seeing more and more smaller newspapers coming to us. ... Just this year alone we have one new brand-new publication that we started printing two months ago, and in May another brand-new, from scratch, publication – both monthlies.”
(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or email@example.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)