Sound Publishing names new Herald publisher
"I enjoy the challenging dynamics of building successful community publications," said O'Connor, who lives in Issaquah. "I am committed to delivering relevant, local news that directly affects the lives of those who raise families and work in the communities that Sound serves, including Everett."
The transition follows The Daily Herald Co.'s acquisition in March by Canada's Black Press, Ltd., which operates as Sound Publishing Inc. in Washington. The sale was announced Feb. 6 and closed March 4.
The Washington Post Co. had owned the newspaper for 35 years before that.
O'Connor, 37, since 1998 has worked in various capacities with Black Press, Sound Publishing's parent company. He was part of the acquisition team that helped make the daily Honolulu Star-Advertiser Hawaii's leading source for news and advertising. Along with his new role at The Herald, O'Connor will continue to serve as a Sound Publishing vice president, a position he's held since 2008.
Sound Publishing president Gloria Fletcher introduced O'Connor to employees at The Herald on April 17.
"Josh is an accomplished publisher with extensive experience in print and digital operations," Fletcher said. "His expertise is truly multi-faceted. He has been part of community weeklies and dailies in both print and online, magazines and multiple start-up publications in both the U.S. and Canada."
Though Sound Publishing received a high level of interest in the position, Fletcher said, "it became apparent that we (Sound Publishing) had the good fortune of having the right person already on board."
O'Connor has a marketing degree from Kwantlen University and an undergraduate degree in executive management from Thompson Rivers University, both in British Columbia.
O'Connor is married to his high school sweetheart, Erin. They have two girls, Lauren, 6, and Mailie, 3. A Pacific Northwesterner, O'Connor grew up in White Rock, B.C. His children are U.S.-born, making them citizens here. He said he and his wife are exploring dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship.
He comes from a newspaper family. His father, Rick O'Connor, sold his community newspaper to Black Press in the 1980s, joined the company and today is Black's president and CEO.
Josh O'Connor also wanted to pursue a newspaper career when he graduated from college. Rather than going to work with his father, he set out to prove his mettle at a competing publication. He joined Black Press, he said, only after they got tired of him beating up on them.
"They said, 'Enough is enough,' " he said. "I have the ethical integrity to do it on my own and I did."
O'Connor said playing baseball and rugby in high school honed his competitive instincts. He's also raced in marathons and duathlons. The latter mixes running and cycling.
"I like to compete hard and it's a strategy that has made me successful in my professional career so far," he said.
O'Connor still plays in a slow-pitch softball league, which is he said is a good way to meet people.
As publisher, O'Connor will manage all of The Herald's approximately 170 employees.
Among his top priorities is getting to know local business and civic leaders. His long-term business strategy is to improve the paper by focusing on readers, advertisers and staff.
As vice president of East Sound newspaper operations, O'Connor has overseen 18 publications as well as Sound Publishing's press operation near Paine Field. That has helped familiarize him with Snohomish County.
After Black acquired and revitalized the daily newspaper in Hawaii, O'Connor returned to the company's Canadian operations in 2002. His publishing roles in British Columbia included a four-year stint at the Richmond Review and the South Delta Leader. He went on to publish the Abbotsford News and the Mission City Record, one of Black Press' largest community weeklies.
In Washington, O'Connor has been an active contributor to Puget Sound-area community organizations.
O'Connor will replace The Herald's current publisher, David Dadisman, who had previously announced plans to leave after a 90-day transition period following the paper's sale. During nearly a year as publisher, Dadisman named Peter Jackson as The Herald's editorial page editor and oversaw the closure of The Weekly Herald, a free-distribution weekly paper that served south Snohomish County.
Dadisman replaced Allen Funk, who retired as the paper's publisher in 2011.
In addition to The Daily Herald newspaper and HeraldNet.com, The Daily Herald Co. publishes the monthly Herald Business Journal and La Raza del Noroeste, a weekly Spanish-language newspaper, and their websites.
In late March, The Daily Herald's average daily circulation was 38,458 with an average Sunday circulation of 45,178.
The publications will remain committed to both print and digital products, Fletcher said.
"We need to do both, we need to do both very well," she said.
The company is researching a system to charge for website content. That's a step other daily papers have taken, including The Seattle Times and The Tacoma News Tribune, both of which recently started charging for online access.
"We will start looking at a digital subscription model that makes sense for us to continue our journalistic endeavors and to provide vital content to the community we serve," O'Connor said.
Sound Publishing, with head offices in Bellevue and Poulsbo, owns more than 50 print and digital titles in Washington, with a combined free and paid circulation of more than 879,590. Among them are The Marysville Globe, The Arlington Times, The Peninsula Daily News in Port Angeles, and newspapers on Whidbey Island. Sound Publishing bought Seattle Weekly early this year and also owns papers in Bothell, Bellevue, Kent and Renton.
Sound has begun to move the printing of The Herald to its presses near Paine Field.
Sound expects to lease the Herald building on Everett's California Street through early next year before moving to a new location. The Herald building and a parking lot on W. Marine View Drive are for sale.
"We recognize that we have a duty to this community to stay in Everett," O'Connor said.
Black Press, Ltd., based in Surrey, B.C., publishes more than 170 newspapers and other publications in Washington, British Columbia and Alberta as well as the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in Hawaii and the Akron (Ohio) Beacon-Journal daily newspapers.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; email@example.com.