GateHouse shakeup hits ‘Register Star’
By Richard S. Gubbe
Gatehouse Media has shaken up its top management positions in Rockford and Springfield, and the new hierarchy has ties to Gannett News Service and extensive sales backgrounds.
Peter Ricker is out after serving as publisher of the Rockford Register Star for the past two years, and in recent times the Freeport Journal-Standard. In a quick change, Josh Trust took over immediately.
The announcement was made online July 9 by Brad Dennison, vice president of publishing-large daily division of GateHouse Media, Inc., which owns the Register Star and Journal-Standard. Dennison only provided the standard corporate line for Ricker of “we are very appreciative of his hard work and dedication, and we wish him the very best as he moves on to the next opportunity.”
Paul Gaier has been named general manager and director of sales operations for both newspapers.
Both Gaier and Trust have had Gannett as a previous employer.
Trust joined GateHouse in 2009 as an advertising director. Most recently, he served as group publisher for GateHouse’s New York newspapers, Messenger Post Media. He reportedly has a digital revenue background.
Trust began his career as a print media buyer at Marc Advertising in Pittsburgh and held management positions at Block Communications’ Toledo Blade, Gannett and Times-Shamrock Communications.
Gaier joined GateHouse in early 2012 as advertising director of the Journal Star in Peoria. In his new position, Gaier will oversee revenue-producing functions, which will include running the Register Star sales department, along with overseeing commercial print strategy and development. The Journal-Standard will fall under his domain.
Gaier spent six years as the regional advertising director for Gannett Wisconsin. His career began in 1989, and he spent his first two years as a sales executive at the Shawano (Wis.) Evening Leader. After that, he spent seven years as a sales executive at The Sheboygan (Wis.) Press.
He served in Oshkosh and The Post Crescent in Appleton from 2003 to 2005. He was then promoted by Gannett to a regional sales management role. Gannett was a previous owner of the local daily.
Whether Ricker was shown the door or couldn’t wait to run through it, the focus is now squarely on revenue. The moves appear sudden and follow a similar ousting in Springfield.
Walt Lafferty, who has served as publisher of The State Journal-Register in Springfield and The Lincoln Courier for the past two years, also was ousted. Dick Johnston will take over. Johnston began his career in sales in Gannett but graduated to publisher in 1987. Most recently, he was publisher of The (Bloomington) Pantagraph for the Lee Enterprises chain from 2007 to 2011, and he was also once publisher of The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale. Johnston is a native of Janesville, Wis.
Meanwhile, GateHouse Media is trading in the over-the-counter market under the symbol “GHSE” at just $0.06 cents per share. The stock traded from a low of $0.03 to $0.14 in the past 52 weeks.
In 2006, GateHouse Media, Inc., held its initial public offering of 13,800,000 shares of common stock priced at $18 per share. Shares rose above to $22 in April 2007, but collapsed in 2008 and have never been more than a penny stock better than $0.15 in the past year.
In 2007, GateHouse Media, Inc., engaged Wachovia Capital Markets and Goldman Sachs Credit Partners to structure, arrange and privately syndicate and underwrite a portion of $960 million.
With headquarters in Fairport, N.Y., the company runs 79 daily publications, 257 weekly newspapers, 95 “shoppers,” more than 405 locally focused websites and six yellow page directories across 21 states.
From the July 11-17, 2012, issue
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