Group publisher Mike Hertz retiring from role
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.”