The Austin American-Statesman has a new publisher. Cox Media Group announced that Jane Williams is the new publisher of the local newspaper and the Statesman Company’s various ventures. Her previous position with Cox was Vice President of Sales, notably not news.
Even so, Ms. Williams will responsible for all news content. “As Publisher, Williams will be responsible for all business and editorial operations of the Statesman and its affiliated publications, including statesman.com, austin360.com, and 10 weekly community newspapers,” a Cox news release says.
It isn’t unusual, in fact it is prevalent to see media executives rise from the sales side of the business, but I always like it when the new boss began in production or as a cub reporter. Executives who start at the bottom dealing with the day-to-day grind of journalism, know what the business is all about most of the time.
By no means am I intimating that Ms. Williams does not know the newspaper/communications business. I am confident that she does. Her media career spans 27 years in the business. She wouldn’t be where she is and where she was if she were not.
“Jane is among Cox Media Group’s best and brightest, and we’re thrilled to be able to promote such a true professional from within our company for this senior role,” said CMG Group Vice President Ben Reed. “Combining her years of media industry experience and unique talents with our exceptional Austin team ensures continued success at one of America's premier newspaper brands.”
Interestingly, Ms. Williams does not have newspaper roots. She began her career in broadcast sales.
“Williams launched her media career at WATL-TV and WAGA in Atlanta and joined Cox Television’s WSB-TV in 1988 as an Account Executive and became a Sales Manager in 1997. Seven years later, she assumed the Director of Sales position at that station. In 2007, Williams was promoted to Vice President of Sales for Cox Television and in 2009 assumed the position of Vice President of Sales for Cox Media Group. As VP of Sales, she has been working with all CMG newspapers along with CMG television and radio properties.
“She is a past President of the Atlanta Broadcast Advertising Club, is a member of the Television Bureau of Advertising’s Board of Directors, and is a past member of the University of Georgia’s Marketing Executive Advisory Board. Williams was awarded the ABAC (Atlanta Broadcast Advertising Club) lifetime achievement award in 2009,” the Cox news release says.
Another mold-breaker is found in her education vitae: She holds a BS in Psychology and Behavioral Science from Berry College, not business, marketing, broadcasting, or journalism. She is a native of Atlanta, the Cox Media home base.
She succeeds Michael Vivio who developed and grew numerous new revenue streams keeping the paper profitable during difficult times. Vivio also staved off would-be suitors and kept the Statesman in the Cox family when it was for sale. Also, he’s a good guy.
Interestingly, the announcement of Williams’ appointment comes on the same day that the Statesman unveils a new classified ad section. “Wooooooo-whooooooooooo!!!” you say.
“Tales & Sales combines engaging content with sales information. It’s classifieds but with Austin attitude and fun. Tales & Sales also features The Stuffologist — a savvy raconteur spinning the tales behind the myriad things Austinites do and don’t do (Work) or love and don’t love (Pets). The daily themes include Wheels on Monday, Work on Tuesday, Homes on Wednesday, Pets on Thursday and Stuff on Friday,” a separate news release says.
With Craig’s List and E-Bay sucking the life out of newspaper classified ads, I have to admit that the Statesman has come is an interesting way of changing the classifieds appeal. You might want to check it out. Future, it will be interesting to see if it attracts new business.
© Jim McNabb, 2011