Times Mirror promotes 2 newspaper executives Junck to lead Eastern group, Hartford's Waller to head The Sun

September 13, 1997|By Jay Hancock | Jay Hancock,SUN STAFF

Michael E. Waller, publisher of the Hartford Courant in Connecticut, will become publisher and chief executive officer of The Sun next month, the newspapers said yesterday, replacing Mary Junck, who was promoted to president of Times Mirror Co.'s eastern newspapers.

Waller, 56, becomes The Baltimore Sun Co.'s fourth publisher in 10 years in one of several management changes announced yesterday for Times Mirror, The Sun's parent company.

Junck, 50, will remain in Baltimore with significantly expanded responsibilities: She will take charge not only of Times Mirror's six East Coast newspapers but also of the company's consumer magazines, including Field & Stream, Popular Science and The Sporting News.

Both executives pledged yesterday to continue The Sun's pursuit of excellent journalism and expanding circulation.

The changes will take effect Oct. 1.

Waller "believes in quality journalism -- the bedrock of what we're out there selling to readers and advertisers," said Junck, who has been publisher and chief executive officer of The Sun for four years.

Waller is a big-city newspaper publisher with a background primarily in journalism, not business. He started his career as a reporter and copy editor at the Decatur Herald in Illinois in the 1960s and was a top editor in Hartford for eight years, becoming that paper's publisher in 1994.

In an interview yesterday, Waller said that newspapers need to be "inventive and brave and risk-taking" while furthering their duties of priming democratic discourse and helping readers navigate modern life.

"We need to be creative. We need to be bold," he said. "We need to make some mistakes, and we need to be not so damn conservative."

Like many papers in recent years, both The Sun and the Courant have struggled to stop circulation declines and both have posted moderate successes recently.

The Courant boosted daily circulation by 5 percent to 218,000 this year. Based on the past five months, The Sun projects circulation for the six-month period will average 313,000 daily papers sold -- up 3 percent -- and 481,000 on Sunday, up 1 percent.

Waller and Junck have presided over Pulitzer Prize-winning work in recent years. The Sun won this year for feature writing; the Courant won a Pulitzer in 1992 for explanatory journalism.

"Both Mary and Mike in my judgment have absolutely distinguished themselves as publishers," said Mark Willes, Times Mirror's chairman, president and chief executive. Both have the ability to blend financial health with journalistic quality, he said.

Among other moves in Hartford, Waller has overseen a substantial expansion of the Courant's business section, a new full page for national news and a redesign of the newspaper that will be unveiled this month. In the 1980s, as editor, he dramatically expanded local news coverage and continues to be dedicated to community news.

John Carroll, The Sun's editor, called Waller "not only a strong publisher but a publisher with an exemplary journalistic vision."

As publisher, Waller has promoted team leadership and has tried to push decision making further down into the organization.

But, Waller cautioned, don't necessarily expect him to do any of the same things in Baltimore.

"Each newspaper is unique," he said. "Each market is unique. I don't have any intention of imposing this on anybody else."

Junck, 50, arrived in 1993, succeeding Michael Davies as The Sun's publisher. Previously the publisher of the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota, she has had an active tenure in Baltimore.

She closed The Evening Sun and converted most of its readers to The Sun, launched a World Wide Web site for the paper and reached an agreement this year to buy Patuxent Publishing Co. in Columbia. Junck and Waller are also corporate vice presidents of Times Mirror Co.

In a meeting in The Baltimore Sun Co.'s downtown building yesterday, Junck told top managers that she had "incredibly mixed feelings" about stepping up.

As president of Times Mirror's eastern newspapers, Junck takes over from Donald F. Wright, currently senior vice president of eastern newspapers. In addition to Times Mirror's magazines, her charges will include The Sun, Newsday of Long Island, the Courant and the Allentown Morning Call.

Wright has been appointed president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Times, also a Times Mirror paper.

In Hartford, Waller will be replaced by Marty Petty, now senior vice president and general manager of that newspaper.

Pub Date: 9/13/97

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