05/30/10 — Hal Tanner III named new News-Argus publisher

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Hal Tanner III named new News-Argus publisher

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on May 30, 2010 1:50 AM

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Hal Tanner III

Hal Tanner Jr., publisher of the Goldsboro News-Argus for 26 years, has announced his retirement from that position effective June 1.

The paper's current general manager, Hal Tanner III, will assume the role of publisher.

He will be the third Tanner to serve as publisher of the newspaper. His grandfather, Hal Tanner Sr., ran the paper from 1953 until 1983.

Hal Tanner Jr. will continue his work with the newspaper as a consultant and adviser.

Hal Tanner III said his father has not only been a great mentor, but an asset to the community as well.

"The citizens of Wayne County and Goldsboro have really been lucky to have had someone of his caliber and character leading the local newspaper in a way that has benefitted this community in many ways," Tanner said.

He said his father is a "true newspaperman," who worked his way up from a reporter's position at the paper in 1962 to jobs with the Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times in Tennessee and United Press International. Hal Tanner Jr. also served as editor and publisher of The Daily Comet in Thibodaux, La., and as administrative assistant at the Enterprise and Journal in Beaumont, Texas, before returning to Goldsboro to become the paper's general manager.

He became publisher in 1984.

Hal Tanner III said his father has always put his responsibility to the community first -- even when it was difficult.

"He led the newspaper's efforts for the betterment of the community with a gentle hand, with fairness and knowing how to stand up for what was right," Tanner said.

And that lesson, which he said his father taught him, will be how Tanner continues to lead the paper into the next generation.

Working under his father's guidance has prepared him for the challenges that he will face as publisher as well, he added.

"The great news for me personally is that he will still be involved in the operation in such a way that his experience and knowledge can continue to help us improve as a newspaper," Tanner said.

Even though the leadership has changed, Tanner said he will continue to run the News-Argus based on principles he has learned over his 24 years in the newspaper business.

After graduating from Wake Forest University, Tanner moved to the Greenville News-Piedmont in South Carolina to join that newspaper's management training program, which involved a succession of assignments throughout the newspaper's various departments.

While there, he earned a master's degree in business administration from Clemson University.

He was named vice president of the newspaper company in 1993. In addition to his other duties, he served as business manager and circulation director and, finally, assistant to the senior group president, which gave him responsibilities with seven newspapers owned by Gannett Corp.

He was promoted to president and publisher of the Baxter Bulletin in Mountain Home, Ark., in 1997, before returning to Goldsboro to become the News-Argus general manager -- a position he has held for 10 years.

Tanner also serves as a director of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and is the secretary/treasurer of the North Carolina Press Association, where he also has served on the board of directors.

In addition to his professional work, Tanner has served on the boards of many civic organizations throughout his career, including the United Way of Wayne County and the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.

"Our business is always changing," he said. "While our industry has seen more changes than usual in the last five years, newspapers are accustomed to adapting and, in some cases, reinventing portions of themselves to face new challenges and opportunities."

He said the fundamentals will remain the same at the News-Argus.

"We will continue to change in ways that allow us to improve and grow as a business, and that will make us better as we continue to serve the needs of our readers and our advertising clients," he said.

Tanner said the newspaper will focus on several core components -- continuing to capitalize on the strengths of its employees by emphasizing training and development opportunities; helping local businesses reach the customers they need to grow and expand; and continuing to be the watchdog the community needs as it negotiates problems created by governments and a changing world.

And keeping an eye on politicians at the state and federal levels -- and making sure that  local leaders hear, and listen to, the voices of the people they serve -- will continue to be a top priority in the coming years.

"I take our role as the voice of the people very seriously," Tanner said. "I want our politicians -- especially those in Raleigh and Washington, D.C. -- to know that we are watching and ready to hold them accountable for the decisions they make that affect the lives of Wayne County residents."

Tanner added that he also wants residents to gain insight into the process and the challenges local leaders face as they work to represent and speak up for the needs of Wayne County and its communities.

Communication and vigilance, as always, will be the key to keeping Wayne County moving forward, he added -- and the News-Argus will continue to be a major player in that effort. 

"We have always been the community's voice," Tanner said. "But as the government continues to interfere in the private lives of citizens -- and fewer and fewer politicians seem to care what their constituents think or want -- I think it is more important than ever that the News-Argus not only is a way for people to communicate with their leaders, but that we join forces with our readers to get answers and action from decision-makers."

He encouraged residents to communicate with their newspaper -- sharing ideas, opinions and comments on what they like, dislike and would change about their community.

"We are interested more than ever in what you have to say," he said.

But even though he says he knows his community faces challenges, Tanner is optimistic that he will see even more progress in Wayne County.

"I have lived in, worked in and visited enough communities to know Goldsboro has a bright future if we are willing to address the challenges," he said.

One of those key areas is education.

"Many hard-working and intelligent people have worked to improve the education system in Wayne County for decades, yet we cannot seem to gain any traction."

Tanner said the News-Argus will work with community leaders to bring the issue to the forefront.

"It is the most important issue, and it needs to be fixed now," he said. "There will be difficult times, but as we work through them, we must keep in mind our most important goal -- improving the education of Wayne County's children."

And just as he hopes to see even more opportunities for Wayne County, Tanner also sees a bright future ahead for the newspaper that has been a part of his family for decades.

"We will continue to develop innovative new ideas to enhance our position as the primary source of knowledge and information in Wayne County," he said. "New products and services are on the drawing board and will be announced soon."

And as he moves into his new role, Tanner thanked those who have been by his side and who will help him take on his new challenge.

In addition to his father, Tanner also acknowledged his mother, Linda, and his own family -- his wife, Leigh, and their children, Georgia, Hil, Margaret and Mary Crawford.

"I have been lucky to have a supportive wife and children who have been with me and inspired me throughout my career," he said.