Coastal North Carolina group includes Daily News, Wilmington StarNews, New Bern Sun Journal and Kinston Free Press
WILMINGTON | The publisher of The Daily News is expanding his leadership.
Veteran newspaper executive Mike Distelhorst has been named publisher of the StarNews in Wilmington.
Distelhorst, 56, is currently the publisher of three other GateHouse Media newspapers in eastern North Carolina: The Daily News, Sun Journal of New Bern and the Kinston Free Press. He will continue to oversee those newspapers as GateHouse’s group publisher for Coastal North Carolina, according to South Atlantic Regional Vice President Lucy Talley.
“Mike is extremely dedicated to our employees and the communities we serve,” Talley said. “He will build on the strong leadership already in place in Wilmington and will help that team continue the StarNews’ role as the news leader in Southeastern North Carolina.”
Distelhorst replaces Bob Gruber, who served as Wilmington’s publisher for 11 years before moving to the Fayetteville Observer in August, just after the Observer was purchased by GateHouse.
Distelhorst says he plans to move to the greater Wilmington area — likely northeastern New Hanover County or Pender County.
“I’m elated to have this opportunity to represent and work with the StarNews team and get to know the Wilmington market,” he said.
Distelhorst grew up in a farming family in southeast Iowa and graduated from Iowa’s Central College with a bachelor’s degree in communications. He then spent much of his career west of the Mississippi, in publishing and sales roles in Texas, Colorado and Kansas.
“As a seasoned veteran, Mike has already steered companies through times of great change,” Talley said.
The shift to put all of GateHouse’s eastern North Carolina newspapers under one publisher is intended to increase group efforts for the publications. The IT and accounting departments already operate as a group, and the editorial departments have taken on several successful reporting projects around transportation, crime and travel and recently combined resources to cover the disastrous flooding in Kinston following Hurricane Matthew.
Bernie Szachara, president / Eastern U.S Publishing for GateHouse Media who oversees the company’s newspapers in the Southeast United States, said this move will continue GateHouse’s mission to bring together collective resources to serve local communities, audiences and advertisers in the best way possible.
“In the wake of the Hurricane Mathew, Mike has shown a tremendous ability to bring people together and provide the critical leadership needed as the region continues its recovery,” he said. “I’m so pleased he will now be able to share that ability with a broader group of people.”
GateHouse Media includes 121 daily print newspapers, more than 300 weeklies and 525 affiliated websites. The company has expanded in recent years with new products and services, such as large-scale events and digital marketing, aimed at helping small and mid-sized businesses better compete.