News Tribune publisher takes job in California

Marti Buscaglia, publisher of the Duluth News Tribune since 2002, will leave her post at the end of this month to become publisher of the Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif.

Marti Buscaglia, publisher of the Duluth News Tribune since 2002, will leave her post at the end of this month to become publisher of the Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif.

Buscaglia, 54, made the announcement at an all-employee meeting Wednesday afternoon at the Duluth News Tribune.

Buscaglia called her new job "a big leap" and then added with a smile, "I hope I don't screw it up," drawing laughs from the crowd of more than 100.

The Register, owned by Freedom Communications Inc., has a daily circulation of about 300,000 and employs about 1,400 people. The News Tribune, owned by Forum Communications Co., has a circulation of about 41,000 on weekdays and 65,000 on Sundays. The News Tribune employs 235 people, but Buscaglia also oversees about 100 more who work for the Superior Daily Telegram, three weekly community newspapers and a zoned local shopper.

Forum has yet to select Buscaglia's successor. She said the company will consider internal and external candidates.


Buscaglia's new job came as news on a national front.

"I believe Marti will become the first Hispanic woman to become publisher of a major U.S. metro daily," said Carolina Garcia, executive director of the Monterey County Herald in California and a past member of the Diversity Committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. "I think this is a major step in the right direction for the newspaper industry, and it could lead to the opening of more doors for people of color."

While Hispanics represent about 14 percent of the U.S. population, only about 4 percent of working journalists identify themselves as Hispanic, said Kevin Olivas, Parity Project director for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

"There's a lack of Latinos of either gender in newspapers -- period," Olivas said. "And in upper-management levels, the number tapers off even more."

Buscaglia said she wasn't seeking a new job when the Orange County opportunity arose. As president of the International Newspaper Marketing Association, Buscaglia said she first met Scott Flanders, CEO of Freedom Communications, at a conference.

"I was impressed by him, and apparently he was impressed by me, too," Buscaglia said.

Flanders asked if Buscaglia would be interested in relocating to Southern California, where she grew up.

"I've been happy in Duluth and with Forum Communications," Buscaglia said. "If it wasn't for this opportunity, I'd stay here."


Buscaglia said Orange County's draws included the chance to lead a respected major metro newspaper in an area that's still home to many of her relatives.

After announcing her departure to staffers, she said, "The thing I'm going to miss most is the employees. Having 300-some employees, it might not sound like we'd be very close. But I know almost everyone here by name."

Buscaglia said she will miss Duluth "and the important difference a quality newspaper in a community this size can make."

"She is more than just a publisher," said Mayor Herb Bergson, who has appointed Buscaglia to several city boards and committees. "She's a community activist."

She led a committee working to make the Great Lakes Aquarium financially solvent and more recently was appointed to a panel to re-

evaluate the plan.

The mayor also appointed her to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center board.

"You can't have a better cheerleader than the publisher of the newspaper," Bergson said.


Bergson said he was shocked to hear of her departure and joked that among the many people who will miss Buscaglia, who frequents Northland Country Club, will be "the kids who look for golf balls at Northland."

Buscaglia is known around town as "very passionate about things," whether it's the proposed DECC arena expansion or animal rights, DECC Executive Director Dan Russell said.

"I think certainly she was more active in civic affairs than any publisher I've seen in my 28 years in Duluth," he said.

Buscaglia has been on the board of the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra for five years. She has passionately promoted the orchestra but also added creativity to the board, said Andrew Berryhill, DSSO director.

"She's smart and influential -- not just because of her position but because she has the knowledge," Berryhill said. "She's been a really fabulous board member and we're going to miss her."

Rob Karwath, the News Tribune's executive editor, said he, too, initially was surprised by Buscaglia's announcement, but isn't surprised to watch her professional advancement.

"We've all enjoyed working with her, and she's a big part of the reason I came here,'' he said. "This is a great paper, but to also have a publisher who understands the importance of providing quality content and letting journalists do their work has been a real treat."

"We'd like to congratulate Marti, and we wish her the best in her new opportunity," Lloyd Case, president and chief operating officer of Fargo, N.D.-based Forum Communications, said in a statement. "We were proud to work with her during our short time together. We appreciate all she has done at the News Tribune. We'll begin a search immediately for her replacement as publisher."


Christian Anderson III --the current publisher, president and CEO of the Orange County Register -- welcomed Buscaglia to the company.

"Marti brings exceptional leadership that will provide distinct focus to the Register,'' he said in a statement. "Splitting my duties will enable more day-to-day focus on the Register and more attention to the overall growth of Freedom Orange County Information. We are vigorously pursuing our strategy of multiple information products both in print and online, while building the Register's reach for advertisers."

PETER PASSI covers business and development. He can be reached weekdays at (218) 279-5526 or by e-mail at .

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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