Robert Hale, a Georgia publisher with experience reporting, editing and working in advertising sales, has been named the new publisher of the Juneau Empire, Morris Communications Co. announced Monday.
Morris owns the Empire, 25 other daily newspapers, 10 nondailies and 23 free community papers.
Hale, 46, will start work at the Empire Oct. 29, he said Monday from Georgia, where he lives and works.
Hale has served as publisher of the Walton Tribune, a semiweekly newspaper in Monroe, Ga., for nine years. Before that, he worked for Smith Newspapers for seven years, serving as publisher for nondaily papers in Texas, Arkansas and Kansas.
He will be joined by his wife, Deana, who worked as a retail and classified advertising manager at the Walton paper.
"We are delighted to welcome Bob to our company. He brings solid experience in our industry plus great enthusiasm for community involvement," said Morris president and CEO William S. Morris IV. "We think he is an excellent choice for Juneau."
Hale is replacing Don Smith, who announced Friday that he is leaving to take a job as publisher of The Grand Island Independent in Nebraska.
Hale, a native of Texas, holds a journalism degree from Texas Christian University. He got his start in the news business as a temporary legislative reporter for The Associated Press in Kansas. He was eager to distinguish himself as a photojournalist, but was drawn into publishing after editing newspapers in Iowa and Missouri for several years.
"Working on smaller community newspapers, I was fortunate enough to really be exposed to everything within the building," he said. "If you hang around for long enough, you learn a little bit just by osmosis, and then you wind up moving up and moving on, and the next thing you know you're running a community newspaper."
Hale visited Juneau for the first time in September. He said he was struck by the beauty of the area and the intelligence and passion of the community. His visit coincided with a town meeting Sen. Lisa Murkowski held about the controversial Cape Fox land transfer, which he attended.
"I sat in that meeting and I thought, 'Man, these people are smart. They know about their community and they are involved,'" he said. "I live in a community that doesn't have a great deal of community leadership. And as I was on the four-and-a-half hour plane ride back from Seattle to Atlanta, it was pretty easy for me to begin making a decision that Juneau's a place I would love to live and work."
Having spent most of his career in the South and Midwest, Hale is looking forward to the move.
"The job opportunity is just terrific, but it's also just the most incredible adventure."