A Seattle news executive who is a Cincinnati native will be the new publisher of the Akron Beacon Journal.
Mark Cohen, 57, chief operating officer and vice president of operations of Seattle-based Pioneer Newspaper Group, will become publisher Nov. 18, Rick O’Connor, president and chief executive officer of Black Press Group Ltd., announced Monday.
“I am confident that Mark has the right mix of experience and leadership skills for the Beacon and the requisite understanding of the Ohio marketplace,” O’Connor said.
Cohen said he wanted to come home to Ohio and liked where the Akron region was heading.
“You look at some of the opportunities — without mentioning names — and there’s some real opportunity out there. Even though our industry is in a transition, we can still be aggressive and take a look around and say, ‘Here’s where we should be and here’s where we should not be,’ ” he said.
Cohen started his career as a sales executive with the Cincinnati Enquirer. He also has:
• Worked for Thomson Newspapers as a division manager and vice president.
• Was advertising and marketing director of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.
• Was vice president of advertising for more than 100 weeklies and six dailies in the Boston market for GateHouse Media.
• Was recruited into his current position by Pioneer, which owns a small group of daily newspapers in the Pacific Northwest.
In a telephone interview, Cohen said he did not visit Akron before accepting his new position, but has been through the region several times and knows of the history of the Beacon Journal.
In talking to friends and colleagues, he said, “They spoke highly of the newspaper and the history of the paper and that journalistically, it’s certainly one of the best in the region. That appealed to me.”
Cohen said he’s been viewing the Beacon Journal’s website, www.ohio.com, daily to read local news.
Also in a phone interview, O’Connor said Cohen’s breadth of experience over his 25 years in senior level positions in the newspaper industry set him above other candidates. Cohen’s experience in advertising and marketing was important as there is more competition from print and digital media platforms, O’Connor said.
“In the world we live in right now, with the changes taking place in media, the person who has the most experience in terms of generating revenue is going to end up being the favored candidate to lead the enterprise,” he said.
Being an Ohio native also gives him an edge, O’Connor said.
“He understands the Ohio marketplace and will be able to hit the ground running with all of the issues that exist,” he said.
O’Connor said Cohen’s main goal will be “to improve the advertising side of our business. We think we have great readership in Akron. We think it’s a paper to be proud of.”
When asked of his goals and priorities, Cohen acknowledged increasing revenue is the path out of the industry’s transition, but said he didn’t want to set an agenda until he spoke to employees and community leaders.
“I want to get a feel for what everyone thinks. It wouldn’t be real smart to come in and have a bull rush of an agenda. I’ll ask a lot of questions, solicit a lot of opinions and with my team begin to put together an agenda for the newspaper,” he said.
Cohen and his wife, Michelle, plan to move to the Akron area and are looking forward to becoming active in the community.
Cohen said he will take some time to get to know the area and the business before making community commitments.
The couple have two adult children who live in Indianapolis and Jacksonville Beach, Fla. The couple also have relatives in Cincinnati.
Cohen replaces Andrea Mathewson, who retired at the end of September after six years at the helm of the newspaper and Ohio.com. She had a 36-year career at the newspaper and was its first female publisher.