News veteran named interim Empire publisher

Posted: Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ronnie Hughes has been named interim publisher of the Juneau Empire. Hughes, a 42-year newspaper veteran, came out of retirement Thursday to replace former Publisher Robert O. Hale, who left the Empire Aug. 14 to begin work as a financial consultant for Edward Jones. Hughes will serve in the position until a permanent replacement is found.

"Ronnie Hughes is an outstanding newspaper executive," said Jim Currow, executive vice president of newspapers for the Morris Publishing Group. "I am delighted to be able to entice him out of early retirement and to lead the fine group of executives at the Empire until we have named a new publisher."

Hughes, 65, comes to Juneau from St. Augustine, Fla., where he retired as publisher of the St. Augustine Record in 2006. But he is no stranger to Alaska. He served as publisher of the Peninsula Clarion, another Morris Communications-owned daily in Kenai, from 1990 until 1994. He spent the next 12 years at the Record, also a Morris-owned paper.

Hughes began his newspaper career in his home state of Oklahoma as a teenager. He spent time as a sports reporter and city editor of the Titusville Star-Advocate, and as a reporter for Florida Today. He and his wife, Martha, purchased a weekly newspaper in Crescent City, Fla., in 1967. They sold it in 1974 to the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. Morris Communications purchased the Times-Union in 1983, but Hughes continued to manage the Crescent City paper until accepting the job in Kenai.

He has two daughters and four grandchildren. Hughes is a 40-year Rotarian who enjoys spending time with family and fishing, one of the perks of returning to Alaska, he said.

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