The last ever Jackson publisher has declined an offer to take a position with the new MLive Media Group.
In case the story is changed, I've pasted in the copy below. Things are not looking too optimistic for this new venture.
Copy of story as it appeared today:
Sandra Petykiewicz, who led the Jackson Citizen Patriot through an era of change and challenge since 1999, will retire as publisher Dec. 31.
Petykiewicz, 58, of Clark Lake, is the last publisher of the Citizen Patriot. The position will no longer exist following a sweeping corporate restructuring announced in November.
She was offered a management job with a newly formed company, but chose to “step aside” instead.
“I am proud of what I’ve done to lead us to this point, and now I think it’s time for a new generation of leaders to take over,” said Petykiewicz.
She guided the Citizen Patriot through arguably the most turbulent years in the newspaper’s 173-year history and kept the business profitable.
“She was publisher in the worst of times to be a financial leader of a newspaper,” said Eileen Lehnert, former Citizen Patriot editor. “But I think she has risen to the challenge.
“She was someone who really cared about journalism and really wanted the paper to survive in some form,” said Lehnert, who retired two years ago.
A native of metro Detroit, Petykiewicz graduated from Central Michigan University in 1975 and worked at newspapers in Big Rapids, Midland, Saginaw, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
She joined the Citizen Patriot in 1983 as metro editor, overseeing local news coverage.
“Sandy was demanding as an editor and a publisher. You didn’t get a free pass for what you wrote,” said Ken Wyatt, retired editorial writer who helped shape the voice of the Citizen Patriot with Petykiewicz for 20 years.
“You always know where you stand with her,” said Sara Scott, associate editor for content. “She is very direct and honest as far as the job you do.”
No-nonsense leadership was also characterized by respect for the opinions and abilities of subordinates.
“She’s always willing to talk to people,” said Wyatt. “She listens, then she does what she thinks is right. Somewhere along the line, she ceased being just my editor and publisher and became my friend.”
“I couldn’t have had a better boss,” said Lehnert. “There were times when we disagreed, but we always respected each other.”
Petykiewicz was promoted to editor of the Citizen Patriot in 1987, becoming the first female editor in the chain then called Booth Newspapers.
She was promoted to publisher in 1999, with responsibility for all editorial and business functions.
Margaret Parshall, advertising director of the Citizen Patriot, said Petykiewicz fully mastered the challenges of the “business side” of the newspaper.
“Fifteen or 20 years ago, our advertisers had very limited choices on where to spend their money,” Parshall said. “Now their options are almost limitless.
“The challenge for us is to help our advertisers reach their audiences. She understands the dynamics of these changes. I learned a lot from her. She was not a micromanager and she gave me the tools I needed.”
Her tenure coincided with industry upheaval that forced newspapers to find new ways of doing business in order to survive.
Circulation of the Citizen Patriot peaked in 1993, Petykiewicz said, and declining readership and advertising revenue accelerated through the recession in the 2000s.
“The low point was in 2008,” Petykiewicz said, “but we turned that around.”
The paper became smaller, reflecting a reduction of advertising revenue. So did the staff, as certain functions, including printing, were consolidated with other Michigan newspapers owned by Advance Publications.
Management was “flattened” by elimination of jobs once seemingly indispensable, including the editor. Since 2010, Petykiewicz has been publisher and editor.
Two years ago, Petykiewicz also became president of Ann Arbor Offset, a commercial printing business that prints the Citizen Patriot.
“We were doing a lot of things other papers were not doing,” said Scott. “She had to make some tough decisions, but I have always thought she has done her best to protect her people.”
“Sandy is a rare person who manages well in crisis, keeping her head,” said Wyatt.
Lehnert said, “She has been out in front in putting the newspaper in a good financial position.”
No previous restructuring is as far-reaching as the one now coming.
Advance Publications announced in November that online and print news operations of its Michigan newspapers will be placed under a new company called MLive Media Group.
The transformation, to be completed in February, is intended to boldly position the company as a “digital-first” news source.
Jackson will become one “hub” of MLive Media Group, with a smaller staff and management structure than a traditional newspaper. Scott will lead the news side of the hub and Parshall will lead the sales side.
Petykiewicz said the new structure is created “from a position of strength” so the company can thrive in the future.
The Citizen Patriot, she said, will become an around-the-clock online information source like “the CNN of Jackson.”
“The changes we are making now will guarantee a future for journalism and advertising solutions in Jackson for a long time to come,” she said.
She has a long list of professional and community accomplishments.
Petykiewicz said she will continue living at Clark Lake, and probably winter in Florida. She is married to Ed Petykiewicz, retired editor of the Ann Arbor News. Their daughter, Kendall, is a senior at Lumen Christi High School.
The retiring publisher does not despair for the future of the Citizen Patriot.
“Right now, between print and online, we reach 70 percent of our audience. Nobody else does that,” she said.
“So I feel very confident we have a future. But it will be a different future.”