For Civitas Media, the Times Leader Media Group is the only game in town.
And that’s a very good thing.
You see, Civitas Media owns the Times Leader Media Group, which comprises the Times Leader, Sunday Dispatch of Pittston, Dallas Post, Abington Journal and Weekender.
Civitas, a portfolio company of Philadelphia-based private equity investment firm Versa Capital Management, LLC, recently sold all but one of its 100-plus media properties.
That one property?
The Times Leader Media Group.
Yes, us, the team of folks from the news, advertising, circulation, production, finance and marketing departments in the Wilkes-Barre area. The Times Leader Media Group is owned by Versa, which is based in Pennsylvania — not in Ohio, as some readers might think.
As the only member of Civitas Media — which, by the way, is Latin for “community” or “citizen” — we feel special because we have the full attention of our owner, Versa, a company that has more than $1.3 billion in assets and is committed to leading the Times Leader Media Group to new heights.
“Versa is excited about the future of the Times Leader Media Group and the investment in the market,” said Raymond French, managing director of Versa.
Our biggest investment? More than $1 million to improve our press and upgrade our production facility on East Market Street in Wilkes-Barre. A better press means a more colorful, better-looking newspaper that gets to your doorstep on time.
That brings us to the rumor mill: Some say that because of the sale of all Civitas properties except ours, Versa Capital is not committed to the Times Leader.
Not true, and here’s why.
“Versa would not have approved a $1 million investment in upgrading the press and infrastructure, improving our website, and hiring additional personnel in our ad sales, circulation and editorial teams,” said Lior Yahalomi, Civitas Media’s CEO. “The Times Leader Media Group is a profitable business, and we are going to continue improving our content and service for our customers.”
Better customer service, additional personnel and improved website indeed.
The Times Leader Media Group has over 100 employees, and our most notable recent hire is a new circulation director, Tom Salvo, a sharp, veteran executive who knows the sales side of the business like the New York Yankees know World Series titles.
Tom started his career at The Philadelphia Inquirer as a district manager in the early 1980s and has more than 20 years of experience in newspapers. He also has worked in circulation sales and distribution for The Press of Atlantic City and has served in several circulation roles for the Gannett Company.
In addition to our new circulation director, we have solidified our advertising efforts by bringing Kingston native Mike McGinley on board as our major accounts representative. This enhances our opportunity in many areas and aids Advertising Director Kerry Miscavage in providing the best results possible for our clients.
We’re also expanding our newsroom. We are interviewing candidates for a new reporting position that will keep you, the readers, better informed about local news.
With these additions in personnel, along with recent improvements to our content, our products are only getting stronger. To wit:
• We have our redesigned website at timesleader.com. Check it out if you haven’t already. It is more reader-friendly than ever, featuring a visually appealing top story and five secondary stories in the News, Sports, Multimedia, Features, Opinion, Business and … Really?!? categories. (One of our recent posts in that off-beat category: “Salvation Army receives donated urn filled with ashes.”) We also have easy-to-navigate photos on each story, a trimmed-down subject bar at the top of the site, and a prominent e-edition display of the Times Leader group’s daily, weekly and special sections.
• Improved design in our print product. Whether it’s recounting Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana or the approximate 170 new jobs coming to downtown Wilkes-Barre via Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance, we present the news with the impact it deserves — bold headlines and meaningful photos and other visual elements. But you won’t just notice the high-impact design on our front page — check out our Sports section, which has flourished under new Sports Editor Dennis Raymo.
• Getting the most important news first. If it’s about county government, veteran reporter Jennifer Learn-Andes is all over it, beating the competition on a routine basis. Politics? It’s Bill O’Boyle leading the pack. Breaking news in the dispute among Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George, Police Chief Marcella Lendacky and the police union? Our city reporter, Jerry Lynott, is your source for that important information.
With Learn-Andes, O’Boyle and Lynott, that’s more than 80 years of reporting experience. No one knows our community better.
We aren’t perfect — no one is — but we have believed in our team and our readers for more than a century in Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne County.
Here’s to the next 100 years.
— Mike Murray, publisher, Times Leader Media Group