Group pub­lisher Mike Hertz re­tir­ing from role

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Prairies -

Al­berta News­pa­per Group pub­lisher Mike Hertz has en­tered re­tire­ment after 22 years with the com­pany.

When he joined the com­pany in 1996, he said, the news­pa­per in­dus­try was at a cross­roads, as it is to­day.

“It was a pretty big turn­ing point in the in­dus­try, be­cause news­pa­pers had to get closer to their com­mu­nity to sur­vive,” said Hertz.

He and other man­agers agreed to switch the Medicine Hat News to a morn­ing pub­li­ca­tion from an af­ter­noon one, which

Hertz said led to a 10-15 per cent growth in cir­cu­la­tion.

“By that time, peo­ple wanted to get their news in the morn­ing,” he said.

“They didn’t want to wait un­til 1 p.m. to get (it).” Not ev­ery­one was pleased with the new sched­ule. Hertz says he re­ceived 78 com­plaints about it, but the in­creased cir­cu­la­tion more than made up for it.

An­other change Hertz helped in­sti­tute was pub­lish­ing more lo­cal columnists on var­i­ous top­ics — fi­nance, land­scap­ing, gar­den­ing, fash­ion and food, among oth­ers.

“You can get those kinds of columns from New York or Toronto, but it doesn’t re­ally mean as much to the lo­cal peo­ple,” he said.

This fo­cus on the lo­cal ex­tended to sports re­port­ing, as well.

“My phi­los­o­phy has al­ways been that you need to re­port on lo­cal sports, es­pe­cially mi­nor sports, be­cause fam­ily and friends want to read … about their kids, read about their rel­a­tives, read about their next-door neigh­bour,” Hertz said.

He joined the com­pany in the early days of the in­ter­net, so he had to fig­ure out how to adapt and “find our niche,” which con­tin­ues to de­velop to­day.

The News has a read­er­ship of 79 per cent of Medicine Hat res­i­dents, which makes it the high­est read­er­ship in West­ern Canada and one of the top five in Canada.

“We very quickly be­came lead­ers in the me­dia field and soon the lead­ing mul­ti­me­dia com­pany in south­ern Al­berta,” he said.

“Through ac­qui­si­tions over the years we have grown to 16 news­pa­pers and over 20 web­sites in south­ern Al­berta and south­west Saskatchewan.”

Hertz says the Leth­bridge Her­ald, Taber Times and Bow Is­land Com­men­ta­tor, all owned by ANG, have sim­i­larly high read­er­ship fig­ures.

Hertz be­gan his ca­reer in the news­pa­per in­dus­try in Moose Jaw in 1987, where he worked as a sales­per­son for a cou­ple of years. He had pre­vi­ously worked in the restau­rant and ho­tel busi­ness.

In 1990, he was rec­om­mended for an ad di­rec­tor po­si­tion in Prince Al­bert, where he was em­ployed for more than three years be­fore be­ing pro­moted to pub­lisher in Swift Cur­rent, where he stayed un­til he was ap­pointed as pub­lisher of the Medicine Hat News in 1996.

Two years later, he was pro­moted to pub­lisher of the en­tire news­pa­per group.

And Hertz isn’t to­tally done with the news­pa­per busi­ness.

He in­tends to con­tinue his in­volve­ment as a con­sul­tant to the com­pany.

“I love the news­pa­per in­dus­try,” said Hertz. “It’s very chal­leng­ing. We build a new prod­uct ev­ery sin­gle day and de­liver it right to your house or right to your com­puter, so you can pull it up that morn­ing and read it.”

MIKE HERTZ

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