(PRWEB) April 26, 2013
Kevin Wendt, vice president of content for the Alabama Media Group, will become director of special projects at Advance Digital, the company announced Friday.
In his new role, Wendt will help develop long-term content strategies to maximize audience growth.
"It's been a terrific five years in Alabama, and I'm incredibly proud of the team's work during this transition," Wendt said. "This new opportunity allows for not only a new challenge professionally, but living in New York is an adventure my wife and I are truly excited about."
As vice president of content, Wendt oversaw the editorial operations of Alabama Media Group, which includes The Birmingham News, Mobile's Press-Register, The Huntsville Times, the Mississippi Press, AL.com and gulflive.com. The company launched on Oct. 1 of last year, and delivers printed editions of each newspaper three days a week, while publishing news 24/7 online at its websites.
"I cannot thank Kevin enough for the sacrifices he has made an helping to get our content team and our products off to such a strong start," said Cindy Martin, president of Alabama Media Group. "While I'm saddened at Kevin's departure, I knew he had ambitions to continue to advance and, if possible, live in New York. I'm thrilled he'll still be involved in content development for the company."
"Kevin is a terrific journalist with a flair for innovation and creative thinking, and we are excited to have him join our team as we work to develop new ways to serve our local communities across the United States," said John Hassell, vice president of content at Advance Digital.
Wendt, 35, was recruited to The Huntsville Times as editor after eight years at the San Jose Mercury News. While at The Times, Wendt led a drive to build a more aggressive digital focus in the newsroom, and he worked with sister papers The Birmingham News and Mobile's Press-Register to better coordinate sports and statehouse coverage.
Not one to turn down a speaking request, Wendt said he felt it was important from his first day in Huntsville to get in front of civic organizations to explain how technology was shifting reader habits, and how the newsroom -- and printed newspaper editions -- would need to change.
"We are going through this fundamental shift in how people get news, and the speed and platform with which it is delivered," Wendt said. "None of this is easy, but when we can get in front of people and explain why we are focusing on digital and why we have to talk about what our print strategy should be, I think it becomes more much understandable and people become more accepting."
Said Martin: "It's great to hear the passion that Kevin speaks with about why we must change, whether that's in front of the staff or in front of the public."
Wendt cited The Huntsville Times' coverage of the April 27 tornadoes, which left Madison County -- and the Huntsville Times presses -- without power for five days, as one of his journalistic highlights while in Alabama. With an RV in the parking lot supplying power to a conference room, The Times transmitted pages to The Birmingham News the night of April 27, and never missed a day of publication.
"We've been through so much since 2008, and I'm so proud and confident in the content team we've put together," Wendt said. "We're seeing tremendous digital traffic growth, and our print editions continue to get stronger. That's a testament to all the hard work every employee has poured into launching this new company."
Wendt, a native of the Chicago suburb of Elgin and a graduate from Northern Illinois University, said he and his wife, Ashley Dinges, will miss how easy it is to get involved and make a difference in the community.
"Everyone talks about how the only way to recruit people to Alabama is to get them to visit," Wendt said. "It's absolutely true. My wife and I developed life-long friends here, and the ability to get involved and have an impact is so easy."
A search for Wendt's replacement is already underway, Martin said, and an announcement will be made quickly. Wendt's last day at Alabama Media Group will be June 14.
ABOUT ALABAMA MEDIA GROUP
Alabama Media Group will be a digitally-focused news organization encompassing all content, marketing and sales operations for: al.com, Press-Register, The Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times.
By bringing together the journalistic excellence of our award winning newspapers with the up-to-the-minute information of al.com, we will solidify our position as Alabama's No. 1 news and information provider ensuring the communities we serve have 24/7 access to what's happening in their world.