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New Albany Herald publisher named

John Hetzler, left, has been promoted to publisher of The Albany Herald, and Mike Gebhart will be focusing on his corporate duties for Southern Community Newspapers Inc. in Atlanta.

John Hetzler, left, has been promoted to publisher of The Albany Herald, and Mike Gebhart will be focusing on his corporate duties for Southern Community Newspapers Inc. in Atlanta.

ALBANY -- After two years serving as general manager of The Albany Herald, John H. Hetzler has been promoted to publisher of the newspaper, Michael J. Gebhart, executive vice president of Southern Community Newspapers Inc., announced today.

Before today's appointment, Gebhart had served in a dual capacity as publisher of The Herald and executive vice president of SCNI, which owns The Herald and six other Georgia newspapers in the Atlanta area. Gebhart succeeded Gary Boley as publisher in 2005.

HERALD PUBLISHERS

H.M. McIntosh, 1891-1925

H.T. McIntosh, 1925-47

James H. Gray Sr., 1947-86

James H. Gray Jr., 1986-91*

Geoffrey L. Gray, 1986-93*

Constance G. Green, 1986-93*

Christian R. Schilt, 1993-96

Gary Boley, 1997-2005

Michael J. Gebhart, 2005-2012

John Hetzler, 2012

NOTE: * co-publishers

"For the past two years, I've spent the majority of my time in Atlanta," said Gebhart, who announced the promotion to Herald employees late Tuesday afternoon. "Albany deserves a full- time publisher.

"Our rich, 120-year history as the leader in providing local news and advertising to the greater Albany market will continue with a full-time captain steering the ship. John Hetzler has my complete confidence to take the baton and run the race set before him. He's up to the task."

"The Albany Herald has a long history of providing the best local news and information, and I am proud to participate in the continuation of this excellent tradition even though it will require a new business strategy for the next generation," Hetzler said. "Under Mike Gebhart's leadership, he has been able to balance the ever- increasing costs to produce our print and online products while maintaining the profitability and integrity of The Herald.

"It's going to be a challenge to maintain and grow what Mike has been able to accomplish; however, we have some of the best professional associates working at The Herald, and I believe that together we can thrive in this highly competitive media space."

Hetzler was hired by Gebhart to serve as general manager in January 2010. As second-in-command at the newspaper, he was responsible for the advertising, circulation and information technology departments. With his promotion, he will also be responsible for the news and production departments.

He came to The Herald from Freedom ENC Communications in New Bern, N.C., where he was vice president of advertising. Before that, Hetzler was a newspaper publisher in California and a general manager for newspapers in New England. He also has experience in advertising management in Ohio, Texas and Washington. His wife, Carol, is executive director of the Albany Area Arts Council, a position she assumed last August.

Hetzler said he will continue working to move The Herald in a direction that will continue to position it as a media leader, both in print and online.

"The media business is changing," he said. "For example, we are no longer just a newspaper business with a single day to create an entirely new product, but a multimedia platform for traditional print and digital. This includes our website, mobile, behavioral targeting and any other new approach to deliver news and information that consumers want.

"Despite what competing media may claim, newspapers continue to be relevant in today's world. But they have never been stagnant. We're simply reinventing ourselves each day to serve our 66,000 readers and provide up-to-the-minute breaking news each hour of the day that generates over a million page views per month on our website, www.albanyherald.com."

Gebhart, who is relocating to the SCNI corporate offices in metro Atlanta but who also will maintain an office at The Herald, says he intends to be a frequent presence at the Albany newspaper, though the majority of his time will be spent in Atlanta.

"Over the past eight years, I have formed many wonderful friendships," Gebhart said. "I'm thankful that I will still oversee The Herald as part of my corporate responsibilities. This will allow me to be in Albany often and see the folks I've come to respect and appreciate."

In addition to The Herald, SCNI owns the Gwinnett Daily Post, the Rockdale Citizen, the Newton Citizen, the Clayton Daily News, the Henry Daily Herald and the Jackson Progress-Argus.

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