Star-Telegram Publisher Gary Wortel is leaving Fort Worth to become regional publisher of McClatchy’s West region and president and publisher of the Sacramento Bee, the media company announced Friday.
As one of four regional publishers for McClatchy, Wortel will oversee nine other newspapers in California, Idaho and Washington.
Wortel, 60, who has been in Fort Worth since late 2007, led the Star-Telegram through its ongoing digital transformation during a challenging time in the newspaper industry marked by declines in print readership and advertising revenue.
Wortel, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, will assume his new role at the Bee, McClatchy’s flagship newspaper, April 10.
“The Star-Telegram has been my home the past nine years, but this opportunity to help our media company build an even stronger future was too big to pass up,” Wortel said. “I can’t thank our great community enough for supporting the Star-Telegram.”
Tony Berg, president and publisher of the Kansas City Star, will serve as the regional publisher for the Midwest region, which includes the Star-Telegram. Berg will be tasked with hiring a publisher for the Star-Telegram, which is also conducting a search for an executive editor.
Wortel came to the Star-Telegram from Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he was president and publisher of The Sun News from 2005 to 2007. He was vice president of advertising and marketing at the St. Paul Pioneer Press from 2001 to 2004 and also held a variety of advertising, marketing and sales positions at The Tennessean in Nashville and at the San Jose Mercury News.
Under Wortel, the Star-Telegram created new and enhanced niche publications, including K magazine and several community weekly newspapers, and launched major digital initiatives, such as the award-winning video series Titletown, TX, which documented Aledo High School’s run to the 2016 state football championship.
But in response to media-industry challenges, Wortel also made difficult decisions to downsize the Star-Telegram, including selling the downtown Star-Telegram building and the printing facility in south Fort Worth.
“Star-Telegram employees have a special Texas spirit of getting things done in a forward-thinking manner,” Wortel said. “Despite our industry challenges, I am proud to have served as publisher in this great city.”
The move by McClatchy to promote publishers to newly created regional positions in the East, Carolinas, Midwest and West is the latest in a series of realignments by the company.
McClatchy also has regionalized or centralized its audience, production, human resources and finance divisions, streamlined the company’s legacy print operations and refocused resources on accelerating the company’s digital transformation, according to a news release.