New Albany Herald publisher talks print media's future

After two years as general manager John Hetzler is promoted to publisher / Sarah Bleau

Michael Gebhart is turning the page on his time at the Albany Herald to dedicate his time to his second job as Executive Vice-President of the Herald's parent company Southern Community Newspapers, Inc. (SCNI).

"I think with Atlanta there's some exciting opportunities up there with our papers and although I've been managing them now for three years I'll get to see personnel first hand," says Gebhart, who's been The Albany Herald's publisher since 2005.

Filling the space will be John Hetzler who's been the Herald's general manager for two years.

"Well the goals I have for The Albany Herald, first of all, is be financially stable, grow, thrive with the people we have," says Hetzler. "These people work very hard to keep this place running and we've got 66,000 people daily who depend on the news we deliver to them in the paper plus several hundred page views a month."

The future of print media is continually being debated. Hetzler's says his plans for not just the paper but also for the Herald's online presence is to strike a balance. He says there is a demand for their print edition but there is also a high demand of people wanting news online and news that breaks every hour and minute.

"We're competing in a 24 hour news cycle now, and just like TV and radio, we have to do things differently and smartly. Our operation changes daily and we have to stay with it," says Hetzler.

As for pay walls -- or online newspaper subscriptions -- don't expect to see that kind of service from the Herald.

"Right now people are so conditioned to receiving online news for free unless it is the Wall Street Journal or something like that that's got that kind of brand we just don't think it's going to happen," says Hetzler.

As for the future of Gebhart, he's heading to Atlanta and says he looks forward to first-hand seeing personnel who he's communicated with for the last three years he's been with at SCNI.