Lakeway Publishers Inc. has announced that Brian Blackley, of Covington, has been named publisher of The Tullahoma News.
Blackley replaces Jeff Fishman, who has resigned his position as publisher. Fishman will continue to serve as editor and publisher of The Moore County News in Lynchburg and as vice president of Middle Tennessee operations for Lakeway Publishers.
In addition, Harry Hill Jr. has announced his retirement as assistant publisher and assistant vice president of Middle Tennessee operations. His retirement will go into effect in 30 days.
Blackley has been with Lakeway Publishers since July. He comes to Tullahoma after a temporary assignment in Pacific, Missouri, as well as a nine-year stint in Covington.
He has also worked at a number of publications across the South, including newspapers and shoppers in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.
Blackley holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. He also served as the editor of The Daily Mississippian, the University of Mississippi student newspaper.
Improving, not disrupting
The main goal for Blackley, he said, is to build upon the current strengths of the newspaper.
“The newspaper business has changed over the years, and we have to adapt with it,” he said.
“We have to continue to put out strong products for the community, but at the same time we have to be cognizant of ensuring that we meet the financial demands to keep the business alive and sustainable,” he said.
“My goal is to work to balance the interests of the community and balance the financial interests of the newspaper and to try to bring those together in as positive a way as I can for everybody involved,” Blackley said.
In his limited time in Tullahoma, Blackley said he has seen a number of great things happening at The Tullahoma News, and he believes he and the company can build upon those things and make the paper even better.
“I want to come in and be a part of moving things forward; not of disrupting the things that are being done well,” he said.
Blackley said he will be using his first few months to gain an understanding of where things are and “where we can make subtle improvements.”
So far, however, Blackley is encouraged by what he’s seen.
“It’s a neat operation, actually,” he said. “There’s a lot of moving parts here both on a local level and a regional level; there’s a lot happening.”
Fishman had served as publisher of The Tullahoma News since 2001. He has been with The News since 1986.
During his tenure, he served as the president of the Tennessee Press Association in 2011, a position also held by his father, Lakeway Publishers Inc. President and CEO R. Jack Fishman; and his brother, Michael Fishman, editor and publisher of The Citizen Tribune in Morristown.
Fishman will now work full time in Lynchburg, where he will continue to serve as editor and publisher of The Moore County News, a position he has held since January.
Hill began working at The Tullahoma News and with Lakeway Publishers in 1986, when he was named the group advertising director for the Middle Tennessee operation.
Hill’s father, Harry Hill Sr., was co-owner of the newspaper with Morris Simon from 1951 until his death in 1982 in a plane crash. He oversaw the acquisition of the newspaper by Lakeway Publishers.
Hill’s retirement began Wednesday, although he will stay on through November to assist Blackley’s transition.
According to Blackley, Hill will also serve as an advisor to the new publisher.
“He has already proven to be a very knowledgeable and capable and interested person in helping make my transition as smooth as possible, and I absolutely plan to listen to him and to take his counsel and to work with him to make this go well,” Blackley said.
“I’m very thankful for that,” he added. “It’s a step that an outgoing executive absolutely does not have to do, and I think it demonstrates his care and compassion and love for his job and for the people that he’s worked with for these years, and I’m grateful that he has decided to stay through the transition.”
Once the transition is complete, Hill said he plans to spend time with his family, do a little traveling and play music, which he enjoys as a hobby.
Lakeway Publishers owns 31 newspapers in Tennessee, Florida, Missouri and Virginia. It is the parent company of The Manchester Times, as well as The Elk Valley Times in Fayetteville, The Grundy County Herald in Tracy City, The Herald-Chronicle in Franklin County and The Moore County News in Lynchburg.
Erin McCullough may be reached by email at email@example.com.